Liam Hoden’s World Cup Watch: Can Spain bounce back?

Group B: Australia v Holland, Porto Alegre, 5pm kick off, ITV

By Liam Hoden
Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 4:23 pm

After the performance of the opening round, can the Dutch secure almost certain passage into the second round by beating the Aussies?

You’d fancy it, wouldn’t you.

The Dutch will be keen to avoid needing too much from the last group game with Chile and are likely to keep the tempo high against Australia.

And they showed how unstoppable they can be with a high tempo.

Australia meanwhile showed a surprising amount of resolution and threat in the clash with Chile and were unlucky not to come away with something.

Tim Cahill showed he’s still got it when it comes to leaping like a salmon and if wide men Tommy Oar and Mathew Leckie can send in half the crosses they did against Chile, there’s a chance they can penetrate the Dutch.

Team news

A hamstring injury has ruled Australia defender Ivan Franjic out of the World Cup and central defender Ryan McGowan is expected to come in at right back.

Louis van Gaal has proved to be a tinkerman in recent months and could be set to revert to 4-3-3 after playing five at the back against Spain. Robin van Persie is one of three players sitting one booking away from a ban.


Australia were better than expected against Chile but are likely to be beaten with relative comfort by a Holland side looking to get out of a tough group nice and early.


Australia 14/1 Draw 6/1 Holland 1/5

Closer to home

Australia: Bailey Wright (Preston), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon).

Holland: Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Jonathan de Guzman, Michel Vorm (both Swansea), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Tim Krul (Newcastle).

Group B: Spain v Chile, Rio de Janeiro, 8pm kick off, BBC One

By 10pm tonight, the defending world champions, the all-conquering international side of the last half dozen years, could be out of the World Cup after just two group games.

Think about that because there is a good chance of it happening.

This always looked like being one of the ties of the group stages but given what went off in the two sides’ respective first games, it’s arguably even more interesting.

The big statement being thrown around is the semi-question ‘surely Spain can’t be as bad as that again.’

Spain actually played well for the first half hour of their crushing defeat to Holland but were brutally exposed as the game wore on.

Once Holland realised they could get beyond Spain, they did it time and again with great effect.

There is a very good chance Spain could be caught napping at the back by an electric Chilean break.

But there was a lack of toothlessness from Chile in their opening win over Australia. They looked capable of giving the Aussies a real tonking but could not shut the game out.

Whatever control they may get on the game, there is always a chance Spain will pick them apart in just one move.

If Chile are going to maintain their attacking principles, they must attempt to blitz the Spanish in the same manner the Dutch did.

Team news

Spain keeper Iker Casillas could be dropped after his horror show against Holland. With David De Gea recovering from a buttock muscle injury, Pepe Reina could be called on to replace Casillas.

Arturo Vidal came through an hour of Chile’s win over Australia in his first action since knee surgery and should start. Charles Aranguiz is one booking away from a ban.


Both sides must improve if they are going to have a chance of winning this match. With the Dutch still to come, Chile may see this as their best chance of making it through and the Spanish certainly need to get off the mark in some way. After what happened in the first games, calling this one is very difficult.


Spain 4/7 Draw 10/3 Chile 11/2

Closer to home

Spain: Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta (both Chelsea), David de Gea, Juan Mata (both Manchester United), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), David Silva (Manchester City).

Chile: Jean Beausejour (Wigan), Gary Medel (Cardiff), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest).

Group A: Cameroon v Croatia, Manaus, 11pm kick off, ITV

They gave Brazil a real test, now can Croatia get some points on the board as they deserved to do against the hosts.

Croatia proved a big threat and will be confident of getting something from their second game, this one in the heart of the Amazon.

The impressive midfield trio has the ability to slow down the game considerably to ensure they cope with the conditions.

Much of their success against Brazil came in the wide areas through Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic who were released really well by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

They are likely to face a bit more of a resolute opposition in Cameroon but should have the tools to break them down.

Cameroon have plenty to do to avoid an early exit from the competition. They looked rather poor against Mexico and would have been out of sight but for the grace of the match officials.

They had a lot of trouble with Mexico’s lauded full backs and will certainly be run at again by the Croatians.

Team news

Cameroon skipper Samuel Eto’o has a knee problem but could face Croatia. Vincent Aboubakar is on standby to replace Eto’o while Jean Makoun could be back from an ankle injury.

Mario Mandukic is set to start for Croatia after serving a one-match ban with Nikica Jelavic likely to drop out. Luke Modric should be fit after injuring his foot against Brazil.


The way is open for Croatia to insert themselves into the running to get out of this group, deservedly so after their performance against Brazil. Big improvement is needed from Cameroon to stand in their way.


Cameroon 9/2 Draw 11/4 Croatia 4/6

Closer to home

Cameroon: Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham), Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea).

Croatia: Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Nikica Jelavic (Hull).