World Cup 2014 Group B preview: Australia v Netherlands
Group B outsiders Australia (25/1 to qualify) go into their tough second match of the World Cup with the Netherlands (3/10 to come top), having never lost against them in three attempts. Back them to grab a point off the Spain slayers at 5/1, and keep their undefeated record over the Dutch intact.
Tim Cahill, 34, has played in two of those games, getting a goal in a 1-1 draw in 2006. The current New York Red Bulls attacker and Socceroos all-time leading marksman netted against Chile in his side’s first match at this tournament, meaning he has scored in the last three World Cups, which takes his finals tally to four. He has long odds of 5/1 to be on target again anytime, and test this inexperienced Dutch defence with his aerial ability.
Netherlands midfield destroyer Nigel de Jong is wary of the former Everton man. “He’s a terrific player that always gives his heart and his all on the pitch. For his country or his club,” he said.
“We have to be careful because the timing to the ball with his headers is one of the best; he’s one of the best timers I’ve seen from all the players around the world. So we have to take care of that very well. We have to take this game very serious.”
Cahill’s goal against the Netherlands came in the first-ever Socceroos meeting, where a certain Guus Hiddink, who will take over as Clockwork Orange boss again after this World Cup, was in charge of the Aussies that day.
But, current coach Louis van Gaal masterminded his side to a 5-1 mauling of Spain in their group opener and, with his side high in confidence, it is difficult to see anything other than a victory for them again. The 12/1 tournament chances are odds-on at 2/9 to win this match in Porto Alegre.
Everything went right for the Dutch against La Roja, barring conceding a penalty, as they destroyed their victors of the World Cup final in 2010. Their counter-attacking and finishing display was impeccable, and key players Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben bagged a brace each. They are priced at 7/4 and 4/1 respectively to get two or more again.
This will be a very difficult game for the Netherlands, though, and they will have to dramatically change their style, as Australia will sit a lot further back than Spain. After being on such a high, you can back the Socceroos to send them crashing down again at 12/1, and replicate their 2-1 victory in 2008 at 45/1.
Dutch captain Van Persie said: “After such a performance, the dynamics have naturally changed. However, as a country, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay realistic.
“We achieved an impressive result but we have a long way to go to win this tournament. This is my fifth [major international] tournament and I know how these things work: the euphoria vanishes just as quickly as it appears.”