Australia v Holland – Dutch Delight Once Again
Australia v Holland
Can Netherlands build on their emphatic win over Spain? Or will Australia bounce back from defeat to Chile?
After going 2-0 down inside 15 minutes of their opening game it looked as though Australia were well set to fulfil the prophecy of them being the whipping boys of Group B. However, they showed good fight and endeavour to pull it back to 2-1 before half-time and then pushed Chile all the way to the line before Jean Beausejour put the game to bed in injury time.
Although Ange Postecoglou’s men were dominated in the possession statistics, they did manage to carve out just as many opportunities on goal as their South American opponents and were far from being outclassed.
Tim Cahill’s goal was the 33rd of his international career and now means that Australia’s all-time top scorer has scored at three consecutive World Cups.
Netherlands, meanwhile, produced the upset of the tournament so far. As mentioned in my preview of the game, I had thought that Spain were under-priced and that Holland could cause them problems. But I couldn’t have anticipated just how emphatic the Dutch would be.
Following yet another poor refereeing decision that gave Spain the lead, the match turned on a moment of brilliance from Robin van Persie just before half-time. The Manchester United striker – who has now also scored in three consecutive World Cups – would go on to add another later in the game, with two goals from Arjen Robben and one from Stefan de Vrij completing the rout.
The Dutch are now into odds of 12/1 (from 33/1) to win the World Cup and can book their place in the last 16 with another three points here.
Ivan Franjic has been ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup after picking up a hamstring tear in the game against Chile. Ryan McGowan replaced the Brisbane Roar defender just after half-time, but with no other recognised right-backs in the squad Postecoglou faces a selection dilemma.
As well as the brace from Van Persie, manager Louis van Gaal will be pleased with the way that his star striker came through the game unscathed. Expect an unchanged starting XI from the Dutch.
The two nations have met three times previously, all in international friendlies, and the Dutch are yet to beat the Soceroos. The most recent meeting, in 2009, ended goalless, Australia won 2-1 in 2008 and Tim Cahill was on the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw in 2006.
Having watched each team in their opening fixtures its easy to see why the Dutch are short favourites at odds of 2/9 and Australia are rank outsiders at 14/1. We may not, however, see quite the same intensity from the Dutch having laid down their marker in that opening game.
Under 2.5 goals therefore looks a good bet at odds of 11/8, as does the 5/6 on Netherlands to win without conceding a goal.