Key Tactical Decisions for Australia in World Cup Clash with Spain
Australia may already have been eliminated from the 2014 World Cup, but the Socceroos will want something to show for their positive displays in Brazil, with a draw or a surprise win against Spain the goal now.
The Spanish have also been knocked out of the tournament after two straight losses, and if anything their performances have been worse than the lowly ranked Socceroos.
The current world champions will still be the heavy favourites when the two sides meet in the Arena da Baixada on Monday, but Australia have shown enough fight against Chile and Netherlands to ensure they won't go into the match without real aspirations of upsetting their opponents.
Here are four tactical decisions Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou has to make ahead of the clash that will determine who finishes third in the group.
Who to Replace Cahill With
The biggest question facing Postecoglou is who to use up front in place of suspended top scorer Tim Cahill.
The former Millwall man's value to the team has been underlined once again in this tournament.
He is Australia's all-time leading scorer and now has five World Cup goals to his name.
So where will the goals come from in Cahill's absence?
Postecoglou could opt to push one of his wide forwards, Tommy Oar or Mathew Leckie, into a more central position and bring in Ben Halloran to patrol the flank. Oar's form has been patchy, however, and while Leckie has had a brilliant World Cup, his finishing is not proving to be as good as his buildup play.
Halloran himself is an option in the No. 9 role, as he was in top goalscoring form for his club before the tournament.
There are also the youngsters who have only played a few minutes off the bench so far, James Troisi and Adam Taggart. The coach may decide to give one the chance to show his worth from the start of the game.
Whether to Try a Different Playmaker
Like Cahill, Mark Bresciano is a Socceroos legend, but Postecoglou might just decide to give one of his younger players a go at taking over playmaking duties.
Bresciano was struggling for fitness coming into the tournament and has not yet completed a full 90 minutes.
With Australia's fate sealed, the coach could test out someone else for an extended period in the advanced midfield position.
Troisi came on for the former Parma player in the game against Chile, while Oliver Bozanic replaced him early in the second half against Netherlands.
The latter was perhaps the more impressive of the two and therefore would be favourite to get the nod for the Spain clash.
How to Best Stop the Spanish Midfield
The Spanish way of playing has reaped immense rewards over the past few years, but it appears other sides have figured out means of nullifying it.
That is precisely what Australia will be aiming to do as well, following on from the success Chile and Netherlands enjoyed against the world and European champions.
Mile Jedinak is a certainty to anchor the midfield for the Socceroos and is the ideal player to harry opponents when they have the ball.
If Mark Milligan has recovered from his ankle injury, he could be the second man to form a defensive shield in front of the back four with Jedinak.
Another option is James Holland, who is yet to see playing time at this World Cup, or Matt McKay, who started against Netherlands.
Postecoglou could choose to experiment with Massimo Luongo in the defensive midfield role, though a lack of experience could count against the youngster.
Try a Different Goalkeeping Option?
Australia's No. 1 goalkeeper, Matthew Ryan, has had a solid World Cup. On a couple of occasions he had made errors, though, most notably in his failure to stop Memphis Depay's winner for the Dutch.
Though Ryan's place as first-choice keeper appears relatively safe in the long term, one of his back-ups, Mitch Langerak or Eugene Galekovic, may be given the nod for the Spain match.
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