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FIFA World Cup Preview: Australia v Netherlands

By Football News



Netherlands are sure to head into Wednesday's FIFA World Cup meeting against Australia full of confidence after their mauling of Spain.

Louis van Gaal's side fired an early warning to their rivals with an emphatic 5-1 thrashing of the world and European champions in Salvador on Friday.

Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, who both scored two goals, were the architects of the victory, while full-back Daley Blind starred down the left as the Netherlands went some way to avenging their 2010 World Cup final defeat to Spain.

The Dutch are looking to go one better than four years ago on this occasion and will be heavy favourites against Australia - a team they have never beaten - in the Group B clash in Porto Alegre.

In the three meetings between the nations, two have ended in draws, while goals from Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy gave Australia a 2-1 win in Eindhoven in September 2008.

Van Gaal is thought to be considering a change in formation for this clash, with the 5-3-2 system that worked superbly on the break against Spain perhaps not best suited to a match they will, in all likelihood, control.

His more familiar 4-3-3 is expected, and could see Blind, battling a knee complaint, moved into midfield. Defender Ron Vlaar is also likely to overcome a hamstring issue.

But despite the array of talent available to Van Gaal, it is unlikely that Australia - beaten 3-1 by Chile in their opener - will be overawed as they go in search of an upset win.

Defender Matthew Spiranovic told Football Australia's website: "They're a world-class opponent. They showed their quality last game.

"Beating the reigning champions 5-1 - I think that says it all. It's a huge challenge that's ahead for us but one I'm definitely looking forward to.

"We're definitely going out there to win the game (though)."

The Socceroos - the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup - were unlucky to lose by two goals against Chile despite a sloppy first 15 minutes that saw them trailing 2-0.

Ange Postecoglou's men responded superbly, scoring through Tim Cahill before the same player had a second-half header disallowed in a sustained spell of pressure.

That ultimately amounted to nothing, as Jean Beausejour wrapped up the points for Chile in injury time, but Cahill's prowess in the air has alerted the Dutch, with midfielder Nigel de Jong acknowledging that curbing the influence of the former Everton man is crucial.

"He's one of the best (in the air) I know," de Jong is quoted as saying in De Telegraaf.

"Tim is not large, but has a great leaping ability and above all, fantastic timing. I knew he could score (against Chile)."

A hamstring injury to right-back Ivan Franjic will force Postecoglou into a re-shuffle at the back, with Ryan McGowan set to deputise.

And while Australia will be given little chance of claiming a famous win, the brave and adventurous manner of their performance against Chile indicates they will take the game to their more-fancied opponents.