GROUP B Game Preview
AUSTRALIAN – HOLLAND
After the Netherlands’ demolition of holders Spain in their opening World Cup match, Australia will have to plug the dyke to stop a flood of goals from the Oranje in their second Group E game in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.
With the 30-year-old Robben playing like a man on a mission to prove himself one of the stars of the tournament and Van Persie, the same age and also on fire, the Dutch are set to give the Socceroos defence a tough day.
“It was an amazing start for our World Cup, and I think we’ve made a lot of people very happy, Van Persie told FIFA media. “Now the focus is on Australia, and I think that will be completely different to the game against Spain.
“Australia have a very different style and I think we are going to have to adjust our own game to beat them. It’s an interesting process, having to adjust your game every time.”
A victory would leave the three-time World Cup runners-up poised to reach the last 16.
Since the humiliation of Spain, there has been much talk of a return to the Total Football of the great Dutch teams of the past, but this is still an uncompromising side and Wednesday’s match could be a crunching encounter.
Australia must pick themselves up from a 3-1 defeat by a tough and talented Chile side. Still, Aussie bravura was on show ahead of Wednesday.
“We just need to be confident and show we can play football like we did for 70 minutes (against Chile),” striker Matthew Leckie told reporters.
“Chile is a world-class team and they couldn’t handle us at times. If we do the things we can do good or great it doesn’t matter what team it is, they’re going to have problems.”
Coach Ange Postecoglou must, however, do without defender Ivan Franjic, who was ruled out of the tournament with a torn hamstring. With no other right-side defender to call on, his replacement will be Ryan McGowan, who came on for Franjic in Cuiaba.
Australia have never lost against the Netherlands yet. In previous meetings, they have drawn twice and Australia grabbed a 2-1 win in Eindhoven in 2008.
SPAIN vs CHILE
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has been bombarded with advice about personnel changes he needs to make before Wednesday’s Chile clash ever since the Netherlands game.
It remains to be seen whether the genial 63-year-old will make any adjustments following the holders’ woeful second-half performance in their opening match in Salvador but he certainly has plenty of talent to call on if he decides tweaks are needed.
Although the scale of Friday’s thrashing was truly shocking, Del Bosque reacted with much the same calm as when Spain slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game in South Africa four years ago before they went on a six-match winning run that secured their first world title.
“We may make two or three changes,” Del Bosque said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Cuatro on Monday.
“If I make changes we are not pointing the finger at anyone,” he added.
“None of the players should be worried, they all have our affection.
Captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas looks certain to keep his place despite an error-riddled performance against the Dutch when he lost some of the sheen that earned him the nickname “San Iker” in his native country.
One area where Del Bosque could introduce fresh blood is in central defence, with the versatile Javi Martinez waiting in the wings to replace either Sergio Ramos or Gerard Pique.
Martinez could also come in for Xabi Alonso to bolster central midfield, an area Spain normally dominate effortlessly but where they were brutally exposed on Friday.
Playmaker Xavi, who at 34 is nearing the end of a glittering career, may make way for young pretender Koke, 22, who had a breakthrough season with Atletico Madrid and whom Xavi himself recently named as his natural successor.
Chile forward Esteban Paredes said the South Americans, who began their campaign in Brazil with a laboured 3-1 win against Australia in Cuiaba, had been practising their pressing game before the Spain game in Rio De Janeiro.
Chile lost 2-1 to the Spanish in the group stage in South Africa and caused the world and European champions problems in a couple of subsequent friendlies, losing 3-2 in September 2011 and drawing 2-2 last September.
“We have played a few matches against Spain,” Paredes said on the Chile team website (www.anfp.cl).
“It is going to be a matter of life and death for them and a genuine final for us because a win would practically see us through to the next round,” added the 33-year-old.
“We are working intensively on our pressing game. No team pressures their opponents like we do and against Spain it won’t be any different.
“We are not thinking about going for a draw. We have the mentality to go out and win.”