The final set of FIFA World Cup 2014 group games is upon us—where on earth did the time go?
Here, we analyse Australia vs. Spain, with both sides looking to avoid the wooden spoon if possible and finish third in Group B.
Australia may have zero points, but the tournament on the whole has gone superbly for them thus far.
A 3-1 scoreline flattered Chile in the first game, as the Socceroos recovered from two early setbacks and threatened to equalise right up until the last minute.
The next loss, 3-2 to the Netherlands, saw Tim Cahill score a wonderstrike and his side take the lead at one stage.
Ange Postecoglu will be very happy with the progress made and the performances on show, with an optimistic eye firmly fixed on the 2015 Asia Cup early next year.
For Spain, read the exact opposite to Australia's campaign.
It's been a disaster, losing two games on the bounce and becoming the first nation knocked out of the World Cup. Four years removed from winning the tournament in South Africa, it's nothing short of an embarrassment.
Given Xabi’s retirement and generation shift in Spain side, hope to see Koke start vs Australia. New and fresh outlook for Euro 2016.— Callum Fox (@cjfox21) June 22, 2014
Koke could well start for the injured Xavi and Pepe Reina could even relieve Iker Casillas in goal.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. No Relief
Tim Cahill has been able to provide relief to Australia by taking in long passes and steadying the flow of the game.
That'll be needed against Spain more than ever, so his absence due to suspension hits Postecoglu hard. The striking options beyond the former Everton man are a bit bleak, but someone has to step up and protect the ball, allowing his side to move up the pitch and out of a low block.
Who will Ange pick?
2. Death by Passing
Spain have been unable to convert their possession dominance to goals this summer, but as bad as they've been at times, both Chile and Netherlands are superb on the counterattack.
Australia sans Cahill are less of a threat. That's not to call into question Mathew Leckie and Tommy Oar, who've been terrific, but more an acknowledgement in the drop in quality on paper.
Spain became paralysed in fear of losing the ball high up against Chile, but against the Socceroos that won't register. They should be more assured, more clinical and more imposing as a result.
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.