The FourFourTwo Preview: Australia vs Netherlands
The game that will have Spain and Chile looking on nervously.
After their 5-1 shellacking of Spain, it’s understandable that the Netherlands will be going into this game full of confidence but, perversely, group outsiders Australia also have reasons for optimism after an encouraging second-half display in the 3-1 defeat to Chile.
The Socceroos were chasing shadows for the first quarter as the South Americans stormed into a 2-0 lead, but after Tim Cahill & Co. realised that Chile’s defence wasn’t nearly as impressive as their attack, the South Americans ended up hanging on, barely able to cope with the former Everton man’s aerial prowess.
Despite the presence of Diego Costa in the Spain attack, this is not something Louis van Gaal’s men had to contend with; neither did they dominate possession and, like Australia, got by on around a third. Expect that to change in Porto Alegre, so too the Netherlands' formation, which is likely to switch from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1.
As against Chile, that’s how the Socceroos should line up, with Ryan McGowan replacing the injured Ivan Franjic at right-back. With Spain likely to get better, only a win will do for Ange Postecoglu’s side, but they’ll need to start faster to avoid being overwhelmed by the Oranje.
What the local media say
“If the Netherlands can put five past the world champions, what hope Australia?” – The Sydney Morning Herald says what everybody else is thinking.
Key battle: Daley Blind vs Mathew Leckie
Forget Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie: according to Stat Zone, Blind was the Netherlands' most influential player against Spain, hugging the left touchline and delivering two pinpoint cross-field assists, as well as making a goal-saving last-ditch tackle to deny Fernando Torres. Whether it’s Blind in a 3-5-2 or Bruno Martins Indi at left-back in a formational reshuffle, Leckie should trouble the Netherlands more than Spain managed to. The right-winger was excellent against Chile, particularly in the second half, and his wing play could determine how much joy Cahill has against the Dutch rearguard.
Facts and figures
- Australia are unbeaten in their 3 previous meetings against the Netherlands (W1 D2). Their last encounter was on October 10, 2009 in a Sydney friendly (0-0).
- With their goals against Spain, both Robben and Van Persie became the first Netherlands players to score in 3 different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2010, 2014).
- Netherlands are unbeaten in their last 11 World Cup group stage matches, winning 8 and drawing 3. Their last group stage defeat came back in 1994 versus Belgium.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Closer than you might expect, but the Netherlands' forward power to shine through. 1-2.