Wednesday afternoon at 1pm (local time) and Thursday morning at 2am (AEST), the Socceroos will face off against the extremely confident Netherlands in what will be both teams’ second group match at the 2014 World Cup. The match will be played at the Estadio Beiro-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre with Netherlands at full strength, but Australia have just lost Ivan Franjic for the remainder of the tournament.
Australia battled Chile just a few days ago in their opening match and fell just short (lost 3-1). The super aggressive South Americans scored two early goals and that really made the difference in this one. Australia hit back through a trademark Cahill header, but it was all too late. However, the Aussies can be enthusiastic and take many positives out of that match, due to the fact they dominated the second half.
The Dutch side thrashed defending World Champions Spain 5-1 in their opening match. The game’s first goal came from Xabi Alonso but soon after, Robbin Van Persie scored a cracking ‘Superman’ Header. From there, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Van Persie went on to create and score four more goals to really stamp their authority in this match.
The question mark over Mark Bresciano’s fitness was erased when he took the field for the Socceroos in the creative no.10 role, playing an important part in Australia’s only goal against Chile. However, right at the end of the first half, Franjic injured his hamstring and has now unfortunately been ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup. “I thought it might be ok… But the next day I woke up and I knew my World Cup was over” Franjic said in a press conference.
Coming into to replace him at Right-Back will be Ryan McGowan who has little experience in that role being a specialist Center-Back but will be happy he was able to play one full half in that role against Chile when Franjic was subbed off. Louis Van Gaal’s squad have no injury concerns apart from a “minor knee complaint” for Daley Blind. Today, he trained separately from the squad to individualize his workload in the lead up to the next game:
“There will be no problem (against Australia)”.
It was Blind who put in a huge curling cross for Robin Van Persie’s amazing headed goal against Spain.
Australia will need to make sure they do not get off to another slow start. Expect them to be very solid at the back in preventing any early goals from the Dutch side. This is in fact what killed Australia in their first match against Chile. Again look for them to counter using the width of the pitch with quick wingers, but providing more quality balls into Cahill as it is a great weapon Australia has. Van Gaal perfected the counter attack against the Spanish side implementing a 5-3-2 formation. However, do not expect him to employ this same strategy against Australia. The Netherlands will most likely adopt a possession based game using the well-known Dutch 4-3-3 formation, employing Van Persie as the lone striker, with two quick wingers supporting. The reason for this is Australia will not attempt to control the game from the outset.
The Netherlands will create a huge amount of chances using Robben’s pace down the right flank, and Van Persie’s dynamism up front, along with Nigel de Jong’s ability to use his strength to dispossess.
Look for Australia to once again use the flanks to float in balls to Cahill but also string together quick passes in short spaces, but they will not be aggressively pressed like they experienced with Chile, so they will have a bit more time on the ball.
The Socceroos will not want to lose their second match and the Dutch will attack but can they convert again?
Projected starting line-ups:
Cillessen, Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij, Blind, De Jong, De Guzman, Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie, Lens
Ryan, McGowan, Wilkinson, Spiranovic, Davidson, Milligan, Jedinak(c), Oar, Bresciano, Leckie, Cahill