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Australia vs. Netherlands: Holland heavy favourites after opening surprises

The Netherlands and Australia both surprised in their opening matches, but the Oranje will still be expected to win in their second group match.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Both of these teams have done surprisingly well in the opening games, with Australia unlucky to end up on the end of a defeat by Chile and the Netherlands producing an all-time stunning performance in thrashing Spain 5-1. Whether these were freak results or the level these teams are capable of playing at full-time remains to be seen, so this match should be slightly unpredictable, although the Dutch will still be overwhelming favourites to progress.

Team news

Ivan Franjic is the only real injury for either side as the defender's World Cup was cut short due to an injury in Australia's defeat against Chile. He'll likely be replaced by Ryan McGowan in the Socceroos' starting lineup. Otherwise, Australia are likely to keep the same team and formation that served them well in their game against Chile, which they were highly unlucky to lose.

Last match for the Dutch

The Netherlands, meanwhile, have no new problems and will probably start with the same team that thrashed Spain. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben have a reputation for being injury-prone, but it would be a major shock if either were rested after Dutch boss Louis van Gaal spoke of the importance of following up their stunning opening win with another victory against lesser opponents in Australia. Nonetheless, a return to a 4-3-3 formation could be in store against lesser opponents, but there may be calls to stick with the 3-5-2 after it proved so devastatingly effective in the opening game.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Australia (4-4-1-1): Mat Ryan; Matthew Spiranovic, Jason Davidson, Alex Wilkinson, Ryan McGowan; Ben Halloran, Mark Milligan, Mile Jedinak, Mathew Leckie; Mark Bresciano; Tim Cahill

Netherlands (3-4-1-2): Jasper Cillessen; Bruno Martins Indi, Ron Vlaar, Stefan De Vrij; Daley Blind, Nigel De Jong, Jonathan De Guzman, Daryl Janmaat; Wesley Sneijder; Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie.

Key matchups

Wesley Sneijder vs. Mile Jedinak

Whether Holland revert to a 4-3-3 or stick to their 3-5-2, Wesley Sneijder will be the furthest forward of their midfielders and will be the key to their attacking play. It will fall upon Mile Jedinak to shut him down, and thankfully for Australia the Crystal Palace midfielder is among their best players. Jedinak is not the most mobile, but he is strong and excellent at anticipating the ball and stopping his opponent from playing, and with Sneijder not exactly the speediest or trickiest player now, he may well have enough to keep him quiet.

Australia's First Match

Tim Cahill vs. Ron Vlaar

Australia impressed against Chile, but a large part of that was due to the South Americans deciding to field two very small makeshift centre-backs versus a team that relies on crosses to a striker who is good in the air. Ron Vlaar, in contrast, is a proper centre-back, and he'll be much harder opposition for Cahill to go up against. But that said, Vlaar hardly covered himself in glory for Aston Villa last season - he can certainly be beaten, but Cahill may have to use brains rather than brawn to do so.


It's possible, maybe probable,m that the Netherlands' opening game was something of a freak result. They don't seem likely to completely blow teams away. But they should still have far too much for Australia, who while decent in their first game took advantage of their opponents weaknesses. This should be a win which sees the Netherlands all but through to the next stage. 2-0 Netherlands.