Two teams at the opposite end of the spectrum clash in Group B action at the 2014 World Cup. Holland got off to a roaring start by thrashing defending champions Spain 5-1, while Australia were defeated 3-1 by Chile in their opening fixture.
The Dutch were extremely impressive as they got their revenge against the team that defeated them at the 2010 World Cup Final. It was a return of Total Football for The Clockwork Orange that harkened back to the days of Johan Cruyff. Flowing in attack and finishing with aplomb, the Dutch served notice that they will be a threat in Brazil.
Holland surprised observers by lining up in a 3-5-2 formation against Spain. Coach Louis Van Gaal is a master tactician so one should suspect he used that particular formation specifically geared to play Spain. Expect the Dutch to possibly lineup in a conventional 4-3-3 against the Socceroos.
Robin Van Persie had a brilliant game against Spain. The Manchester United striker scored twice, including a spectacular header that is the goal of the tournament so far.
Van Persie will start at the centre forward position for Holland.
Arjen Robben also had a fantastic fixture. The Bayern Munich winger also recorded a brace, using his pace along the flank to wear down the Spanish. Robben should be on the sheet for this fixture.
If the Dutch use a three-man frontline, Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could get the start. The man known as The Hunter, does have 34 goals for Holland but is somewhat inconsistent.
The midfield was simply sublime against Spain. Wesley Sneijder continues to be a maestro of the midfield. The Galatasaray talisman was exemplary in the opening fixture and he would love to finish his World Cup career by leading Holland to the big prize.
Daley Blind had a terrific performance in his World Cup debut. The son of former Dutch defender and current Dutch assistant coach Danny Blind, had his way against the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Blind played more of a wing back position against Spain but can move up to midfield with ease.
Both Nigel de Jong and Jonathan de Guzman were excellent against Spain. However, de Guzman picked up a yellow card and may be on the bench, so that he doesn’t risk suspension. Van Gaal will need to use him wisely.
Not only was Stefan de Vrij an anchor at the back, he even managed to score a goal in the opener. The Feyenoord defender will need to continue to be a fortress for Holland to succeed. Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi started in the last game, and should start against Australia. Joel Veltman could be on the team sheet, if Holland decide to use four at the back.
Jasper Cillessen should start between the sticks for Holland. The Ajax keeper did concede a goal from the spot against Spain, but came up with timely saves throughout the match.
Australia lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and they will most likely stick with this look for the Holland fixture.
Tim Cahill is a fine player and is someone the Dutch need to be aware of. The New York Red Bulls striker scored Australia’s only goal in their loss to Chile, and was dangerous throughout the match. Without a lot of support, Cahill may be Australia’s only hope for goals.
Expect Matthew Leckie, Mark Bresciano and Tommy Oar to be the attacking midfielders. Leckie can move up to forward if attacking support is needed. Ben Halloran is another option in the attacking midfield.
Mile Jedinak captains the team from the holding midfield spot. However, his partner in that role, Mark Milligan will miss the rest of the World Cup with an ankle injury. Look for Matt McKay to take Milligan’s spot as a defensive midfielder.
The back four struggled against Chile, and will face an even tougher task against Holland. Matthew Spiranovic and Alex Wilkinson will have to contend with Van Persie in the penalty area. Ivan Franjic will most likely have to deal with Robben on the flank. Jason Davidson will have to support his cohorts, and keep an eye out for attacking wing backs. It will be a tall order for the Socceroos.
Matthew Ryan started between the sticks against Chile, but it is possible that Borussia Dortmund keeper Mitchell Langerak may be the keeper of choice against Holland. Whomever it is, the Australian goalie will be busy, fending off the Dutch attack.
The only thing Australia has going for them is the heat. It will be hot and humid in Porto Alegre and the Australians are more accustomed to that climate. Other than that, it is advantage Holland. The Dutch looked like they were on a mission against Spain and they would love to keep the momentum going. Australia have plenty of heart and neutrals love their fearless attitude, but the Dutch are too strong. Holland wins 4-1, and take a firm grip of top spot in Group B.
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