After their stunning 5-1 win over reigning world champions Spain, the Netherlands will be hoping to continue their march toward the last 16 when they face Australia in their second group-stage game.
The Socceroos showed plenty of battling qualities before falling to a 3-1 defeat against Chile in their opening match and will be hoping they can flourish with the pressure off their side. They’ll pose a completely different kind of challenge for Louis van Gaal’s Dutch outfit, which will have to dictate possession of the ball far more than was necessary against Spain.
To ensure you don’t miss any of the action, here’s all the details you need on where to catch the game on the box and via an online stream. Let’s also run the rule over the tournament chances of both teams.
Date: 18 June
Time: 5 p.m. (BST), Noon (ET)
TV Info: ITV (UK), ESPN (US)
After the Dutch went a goal down against Spain in their tournament opener, it looked as though it was going to be business as usual for the reigning world and European champions. But a stunning header from Robin van Persie restored parity before half-time, paving the way for a Dutch masterclass in the second half.
The Oranje produced a scintillating display of counter-attacking football, as Arjen Robben bagged a brace, Van Persie netted again and Stefan de Vrij scored a header. It was Van Persie’s opener that was the pick of the bunch, though, and it’s been immortalised in a wonderful flipbook animation, as shown here by Dutch football expert Elko Born:
Here's Van Persie's wondergoal immortalised in a cool flipbook animation: https://t.co/3ZoD4QjNSq— Elko Born (@Elko_B) June 16, 2014
The performance as a whole certainly made the watching world sit up and take note. Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 system worked absolutely superbly, as the Dutch constantly sprung from deep with vigour and vibrancy; the invention of Van Persie and the blistering speed of Robben were an absolute joy to watch.
Robben actually set the fastest ever pace recorded on a football pitch as he streaked past Sergio Ramos to net the fifth goal, as noted here by the Metro (via Ibrahim Salha):
Crazy: Robben sets record for fastest speed recorded in a football match (37km/h) - and it was in the 80th minute! http://t.co/InW2a6H1jD— Ibrahim Salha (@ibzo) June 15, 2014
Stopping that mercurial duo will certainly be a tough ask for the Socceroos, but we should expect them to make this a very competitive game. They battled valiantly after falling 2-0 down in their opening game against Chile, with a trademark Tim Cahill header reducing the deficit to just one before half-time.
They did have chances to level the score in the second period, but the South Americans hit them on the break late on, Jean Beausejour restoring Chile’s two-goal lead.
In truth, little was expected of this Australian team given the quality of its opposition and the comparable inexperience of the squad. Ange Postecoglou has done his best to blood some of the nation’s most promising young players into this side, and there were signs against Chile he has a talented core to work with.
Nonetheless, expect the Socceroos to sit deep against the Dutch and look to limit the counter-attacking opportunities that were served up so regularly by the Spanish. The Australians will do their best to cut off space between the lines and in behind, meaning Van Gaal may not be able to rely on his team’s qualities on the break here.
Who will win this one?
Even so, the Dutch still should have enough ingenuity within their ranks to emerge as victors. The creative burden will fall on the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Jonathan de Guzman, who will see a lot of possession with the Socceroos likely to retreat. If they can probe this Australian defence with precision, they will eventually find openings, and players of the calibre of Robben and Van Persie will capitalise.
A loss would be massively detrimental to Australian hopes of qualifying, while a win for the Dutch would put them a step closer to topping Group B. That means they’d most likely avoid a meeting with Brazil in the last 16, and if they harbour any genuine hopes of winning this tournament, it’s imperative they do exactly that.