Group B of the FIFA World Cup has proven to be a group that mocks expectation, and tomorrow it will see a so-called easy-call of a match between the Socceroos and the Netherlands. The Australians come out of a well-fought loss against Chile, whereas the Dutch have likely been riding a wave of pure adrenaline since their smack down against reigning World Cup champions Spain last Friday. Overall, the Socceroos are optimistic about Wednesday’s game and are eager to face the Netherlands.
The Socceroos are liable to ride their own wave as well, the “we have nothing to lose” wave. According to forward Mathew Leckie, that is exactly the team’s mentality, and he reckons it is a good one. “Everyone expects us to lose,” Leckie noted, “…but there’s no pressure on us against Holland.” Channeling the power of the underdog, the Australians feel confident that they can control parts of the game against the Dutch.
Looking at both teams’ previous games, there is a lot to draw that speaks positively for both squads in Wednesday’s game. Spain was able to expose some major gaps in the Dutch defense, at least initially, and Australia’s defense was able to subdue a good deal of Chile’s ball possession in the attacking third. The Netherland’s front line demonstrated its tenacious capacity to catch a Spanish defense off guard, making the Oranje particularly lethal on the counter attack.
Similarly, both teams’ front lines boast a reliable presence in the air. Robin van Persie has the diving header to beat under his belt this World Cup, finishing a long ball from Daley Blind out of the back in the game against Spain. On the Australian side, Tim Cahill has also proven to be dominant in the air, owning his reputation for winning key headers against players much taller than the 5’10’’ forward.
Leckie revealed that the Australians intend to utilize their speed on the flank to orchestrate service into the box where an eager Cahill will be posted. Leckie also claimed that the Socceroos have a few tricks up their sleeve to “hit them [Netherlands] in areas they won’t expect.” The Oranje have a fresh and fit squad and will be ready to receive whatever tricks the Australians plan to pull. The Australian squad, on the other hand, will be missing defender Ivan Franjic who will sit out tomorrow’s game after incurring a hamstring strain against Chile.
Should the Netherlands come away with another victory tomorrow they will likely make it out of group play. The goal difference has stacked the cards in their favor on that front, even if Spain recovers and logs a win over Chile. In any case, tomorrow is a big day for Group B to say the least.
The World Cup match between the Socceroos and the Netherlands will take place Wednesday at the Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. The hopeful Socceroos will go up against the 15th-ranked Netherlands in a game that will ultimately determine Australia’s gusto as underdogs in Group B. Though the cards are largely stacked against them, the Australians remain optimistic and unfazed.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer Covering World Cup Group B