Kicking at 12 noon ET, the Dutch – who demolished the defending champions in their opener – are back at it against Australia.
The Socceroos played well despite a 3-1 loss to Chile last time out, but will now have to face new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal and his band of flying Dutchmen who took care of Spain 5-1.
The result wasn’t only shocking due to the scoreline, but also the fact that the Dutch were down 1-0 early in the game before bursting things open in the second half.
Netherlands – Cillessen, Vlaar, de Vrij, Indi, Blind, de Jong, Janmaat, de Guzman, van Persie, Sneijder, Robben.
Australia – Ryan, Davidson, Cahill, Spiranovic, Leckie, Oar, Jedinak, McKay, McGowan, Wilkinson, Bresciano.
1. Can the Dutch continue their form while avoiding the Australian trap?
Chile struggled to deal with Australia on a consistent basis, and while they ultimately slid through with a nervy win and a late goal, there was a sense of trepidation. With the Dutch coming off such a huge statement win, it’s not out of the question that they suffer a caffeine crash and Australia again puts out a positive performance. The Socceroos are massive underdogs, but that doesn’t always mean much at the World Cup.
2. Will Tim Cahill be able to stay dangerous against the Dutch?
They weren’t perfect, but the Socceroos were solid against Chile, and while they can shore things up at the back, Tim Cahill was a force up front. Spain took the game to the Netherlands early on, causing the back four to make a number of mistakes that Ron Vlaar managed to clean up. If Australia can exploit the same openings and mistakes, they could get Cahill back into dangerous places and maybe pick up a shock goal or two against the run of play just like they did against Chile.
Expectation: The Dutch won’t best their performance against Spain, but they’ll stay on top. Arjen Robben and company are on top form, and their confidence will be at an all-time high. Australia are drawing them at the wrong time.
Prediction: Not much different from the expectation. Australia will be tough to break down and will likely stay incredibly defensive, the Dutch are pros at stretching a defense and will be successful at finding the gaps, even if it takes over 45 minutes to find the breakthrough.