The saying “When it rains, it pours” must be reverberating in the mind of Australian manager, Ange Postecoglou, at the moment. Already beset with the worst draw imaginable in Group B, the 48-year-old manager has witnessed the loss of two young 21-year-olds talents to a side that displayed some promise in a 4-3 lost to Ecuador in March.
Postecoglou hoped Newcastle centerback Curtis Good and Celtic winger Tom Rogic would recover in time from their respective hip and groin ailments, but that is not the case for either player. Add Good and Rogic’s absence to the devastating news of Bayer Leverkusen forward Robbie Kruse’s ACL injury long ruling him out and Australia may already be packing their bags with Chile being the first to help them on Friday.
Jorge Sampaoli isn’t without his own injury headaches, as the day to day observation on when superstar midfield Arturo Vidal continues to factor in his lineup choice for the opener. If the Juventus force is healthy, expect him to line up with fellow headliner Alexis Sanchez just behind the clinical Eduardo Vargas. But if Vidal is rested for the massive battles against the South Africa 2010 finalists, Fabian Orellana will be more than ready to fill in after a fine campaign with Celta Vigo in La liege this past season. Playmaking extraordinaire Jorge Valdivia looks to line up behind that front three, with Basel holding midfield Marcelo Diaz playing behind him.
The Chilean manager’s formation could be their unique 3-4-3 or a 5-4-1, but either way will see Mauricio Isla and Jean Bausejour will likely be the two men providing the width. SkyBet Championship based players Gary Medal and Gonzalo Jara are guarantees to start, but the third central defender for Sampaoli’s back three could be Osasuna midfielder Francisco Silva or even Atlanta’s Carlos Carmona. Barring something miraculous, 31-year-old Claudio Bravo is set to get his 80th cap for his country.
On the other end of the spectrum, Belgium League goalkeeper of the season Mathew Ryan will get just his 8th cap for the Socceroos. Heracles left back Jason Davidson also will reach that short milestone, with Ivan Franjic getting his 10th at right back. The likely centerback pairing of Matthew Spiranovic and Alex Wilkinson aren’t that much more experienced either and will likely be swarmed from the first second on against the vaunted CONMEBOL side’s attack.
Crystal Palace solid figure and Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak represents the heart and soul of Postecoglou 4-3-3 formation, with A-League star Mark Milligan hoping to not make a mulligan on Jedinak’s right and Sion regular Dario Vidosic being the most creative of the middle three. With Rogic’s injury, Utrecht winger Tommy Oar will have to shoulder more of the creative burden with Bundesliga 2. based Mathew Leckie in order to get record goal scorer Tim Cahill the service he requires.
With Spain and Holland going toe-to-toe with each other, Chile will look at this being a chance to get the early advantage on goal difference that will be vital in this difficult group. Australia meanwhile will just look to not be the Tahiti of 2014.
Australia projected lineup:
Chile projected lineup: