Netherlands Grinding Out Tough Win Shows They Have World Cup Winning Potential

Dan ColasimoneContributor IJune 18, 2014

Associated Press

It may have been far closer than they would have liked, but the Netherlands' tough win over Australia shows that they are capable of going all the way in Brazil.

The Dutch scraped past the unfancied Aussies 3-2 in Porto Alegre, and will be feeling more relief than jubilation at securing six points in Group B.

The Socceroos led 2-1 in the second half, thanks to a brilliant Tim Cahill volley and a Mile Jedinak penalty, with Netherlands eventually getting over the line courtesy of strikes from Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay.

After their sensational display against Spain which saw them register an absolutely stunning 5-1 win, the Netherlands' performance against Australia shows that they can win "ugly" against less-fancied opponents as well.

Most teams that have gone on to win the World Cup have possessed such a characteristic: the ability to get a result without playing their best.

It is rare for a team to go through all seven matches needed to win football's ultimate prize producing only dazzling performances.

Poor games happen, and the ability to come up with a draw or a win despite struggling on the pitch is the sign of a legitimate World Cup contender.

The scare at the Estadio Beira-Rio could serve as the jolt the Netherlands needed after the elation of their Spanish demolition.

Though there was plenty to be concerned about against Australia, there are also a number of positives Louis van Gaal can take from the game.

The Socceroos are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, and even though they put in a spirited showing against Chile in their opening game, they were not expected to trouble the Dutch.

The fact that they arguably outplayed the Netherlands for large portions of the match, using a style of passing football that the Dutch call their own, will be a major concern to Van Gaal.

His relatively inexperienced defence will also be a worry, as several slip-ups throughout ensured the Australians were always in the game.

Van Persie will miss the third group game after receiving his second yellow card of the competition early in the second half.

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 18:  Arjen Robben of the Netherlands and Jason Davidson of Australia fall on the pitch during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Australia and Netherlands at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 18, 2014 in Porto Alegre,
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Looking on the bright side, the Netherlands do have six points from their two games and are almost certain to qualify for the knock-out stages.

Their big-name players are firing too. Van Persie and Robben are in scoring form, and Blind has emerged as a truly influential player on the left flank.

The ingredients are there for the Netherlands to be a contender in Brazil.

Sloppy displays like the one against Australia will be more harshly punished in the latter stages of the tournament, but Dutch fans will be hoping their side are now more sharply focused on the prize, and that they won't slip up again.