4 Key Selection Decisions for Australia Ahead of World Cup Clash vs. Netherlands
Australia defied naysayers to put in a battling performance against Chile in their opening game at the 2014 World Cup, but coach Ange Postecoglou will still be left with several selection decisions to make ahead of their second clash against Netherlands.
The Socceroos went two goals down early to the South Americans and appeared somewhat overwhelmed, but they managed to fight their way back into the contest.
Perennial hero Tim Cahill led the charge with a headed goal before half-time, and then the Australians put their illustrious counterparts under a great deal of pressure in the second term as they pushed for an equaliser.
That second goal never came, and Chile struck a third goal late on, but the Socceroos can take some heart from their overall display.
Here are four selection dilemmas Postecoglou has to ponder ahead of the next match.
Change in Formation?
The Dutch have already potentially signalled they will change their formation against Australia from the one which faced Spain to a more attacking 4-3-3, per Chris Brummitt of The Associated Press (via ABC News).
It would not be such a bad idea for Postecoglou to shuffle his cards as well.
Australia's 4-3-3 could be changed to a 4-4-2, with Mathew Leckie and Cahill up front and Tommy Oar working as a winger rather than a left-sided forward.
Another option would be to bring in more of an all-rounder in midfield, such as Dario Vidosic or Matt McKay, and leaving Oar on the bench to be used as an impact sub later on.
Shore Up the Midfield?
The Socceroos could go with a very conservative approach and bring an extra defensive midfielder in for an attacker.
This would not be in accordance with Postecoglou's usual mentality, but Netherlands' display against Spain was so devastating that he may be thinking first and foremost about self-preservation.
Mark Bresciano is likely to keep his playmaking role, as there is nobody else in squad who can perform it as well as he can, but there remains the option of stacking the midfield behind him with three shielding players.
Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan could be joined by James Holland, who was unused against Chile, in what would be a formation designed to disrupt the Dutch attacking system.
McGowan at Right-Back?
When Postecoglou decided against including Luke Wilkshire in his final 23-man squad, many pundits pointed out that there was very little cover for Ivan Franjic at right-back.
Sure enough, the Brisbane Roar man was injured in Australia's first game, after supplying the cross that led to Cahill's goal, and now the side looks extremely thin in that area.
Ryan McGowan came on as the replacement in that game, even though he is better known as a central defender.
He did not have the best of times of it, and he often looked to be struggling for pace.
With no other viable right-backs left, the coach could opt to switch to a three-man back line, with five players across midfield providing the width to nullify Netherlands' pacy wingers.
McKay could come in as a left-sided midfielder, with Bresciano operating on the right.
Does Halloran Deserve a Start?
Possibly the fastest player in the squad, Ben Halloran has been used in recent games as a second-half substitution to take advantage of tiring opponents.
The Fortuna Dusseldorf man has had a positive impact off the bench and is arguably one of Australia's most in-form players.
He may have even done enough to earn a place in the XI, which would mean one of the starters against Chile would be relegated to the bench.
Oar would once again be a candidate to be dropped due to his mediocre showing against the South Americans.
The left-winger is among the most talented of the current Socceroos, however, so it will be hard for the manager to leave him out.
One thing is for sure, if he starts, he will need to improve against Netherlands, or he may lose his spot for the final fixture.