2014 World Cup Preview: Game 3- Australia vs. Spain

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After two first up losses for both teams, this game may not have a lot riding on it in the context of the group or the wider tournament, but im sure both teams will be looking to leave Brazil on a positive note. In almost any other scenario, the European and outgoing World Champions would be runaway favourites for this clash in Curitiba, however as this tournament has panned out the scales have evened out slightly.

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Venue: Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)
Capacity: 39,631

Australia:
The Socceroos put in an outstanding performance against the Dutch in Porto Alegre last week however it wasn’t enough as the Dutch came from 2-1 down early in the second half thanks to Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay to book their passage into the last 16. Selection wise Australian goal scoring hero Tim Cahill misses out thanks to two yellow cards, while it’s reported that Mark Milligan and Marco Bresciano will also miss the clash. Ben Halloran is expected to start wide on the right, which would see Matthew Leckie shift into a more central role, with Oliver Bozanic coming into the starting side after an impressive second half cameo. While they’ll still be the firm outsiders going into this one, there’s a growing sense that the Spanish are there for the taking tomorrow, and that Australia have been the better side so far in Brazil so hopefully they take it.

Expected Australian XI: Ryan, McGowan, Wilkinson, Spiranovic, Davidson, Jedinak, McKay, Halloran, Bozanic, Oar, Leckie.

Spain:
It’s been the worst title defence imaginable and im not sure anyone had Spain going home in the group stage, but that’s the situation two poor performances have put Vicente Del Bosque and his men in. The golden era of Spanish dominance or ‘tiki-taka’ appears to be at an end after three major tournaments in a row. In a worrying sign for Del Bosque despite making a raft of changes, his side looked little better against the Chileans, and while he will surely make more tomorrow, the focus is surely already on the inquest into where it all went wrong. Iker Casillas is expected to be dropped for this one, with Pepe Reina likely to get the chance in goals with David De Gea injured in training, while younger players like Juan Mata, and Athletico Madrid’s Koke are expected to start. Who pays the price for such a lacklustre showing is unknown, but here’s my rough guess at it.

Expected Spain XI: Reina, Azpilicueta, Ramos, Martinez, Alba, Busquets, Alonso, Koke, Mata, Iniesta, Villa.

Group B:
The group is rather simple really, Netherlands and Chile will go thru, and play off for top spot and the chance to avoid a likely round of 16 clash with Brazil, with a draw enough for the Dutch given their superior goal difference. Spain and Australia will battle for third, with a draw enough to ensure Postecoglou’s men finish in third. Kick-off is from 2.am on SBS 1, with the other game in the group simultaneously on SBS2.

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