Australia v Spain
Venue: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Date: Monday 23 June Kick-off: 17:00
Spain have been the headliners of the World Cup so far and for all the wrong reasons. Bamboozled in both of their games against Holland and Chile, they need to win here to avoid further embarrassment. Australia have done their nation proud. Despite two defeats they have entertained and given it a good go, scaring both Chile and Holland at certain points.
The star of the show misses out today. Tim Cahill who looks nailed on to pick up goal of the tournament is suspended following yellow cards in their two matches. Coming in will be top scorer in the A League, Adam Taggart who looks set to complete a move to Championship side Fulham this week and will be looking to impress. Other changes may see Ben Halloran and Oliver Bozanic make starts.
Spain are expected to ring the changes, with the players who failed so far being replaced by the younger models. The likes of Koke will be given a go. Xabi Alonso is unlikely to feature having announced his retirement from international football after his dire outing against Chile and Gerard Pique is suffering with injury. The rest of the changes are anyone’s guess.
Del Bosque is unlikely to change the way Spain play though. Against the high defensive line and pressing of Chile and Holland, the tight passing, tika taka of the Spanish was demolished and the lack of pace in the front line was clear to see.
Australia however have a totally different style, one which takes advantage of the Chile and Holland concept which is why the Socceroos got so much joy in their first two group games. This direct style of football in a simple 4-2-3-1 is likely to become meat and drink for Spain who will be looking forward dealing with crosses rather than fast interplay. Something they have been used to over the successful years they have had. Expect to see a more familiar Spain performance today.
Advised Bet – Spain -1.5 asian handicap – 11/10
Chile v Holland
Venue: Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
Date: Monday 23 June Kick-off: 17:00
The battle for first place in Group B looks to be a cracker. Two sides who set out in very similar ways who registered wins against Spain and picked up more trickier results against Australia. This head to head clash is an intriguing one. Even more so because it takes place before the Brazil match in Group A, where the hosts may decide to “pick” who they want in the next round, if you catch my drift.
The Netherlands will be without their talisman Robin van Persie who serves a one match ban after two yellow cards and Bruno Martins Indi hasn’t recovered from the concussion he received against Australia. These are two big losses and there are rumours going around this morning that Van Gaal may even opt for five at the back in a system change.
For Chile, they potentially have losses of equal affect, Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz.are still not 100% fit and may be rested which will also ensure they do not pick up a yellow card which would see them suspended for the vital knockout game.
Chile are fortunate that they have the likes of Valdivia to come in and set the match alight whereas Holland may opt for a more defensive move when thinking about their changes. Both sides like to play high up the pitch at times and the pace they both posses with the likes of Arjen Robben and Alexis Sanchez- they can both get joy exploiting the space. It could potentially be a goals race with less thought based on defending but this depends on how Holland set up with the changes they are expected to make.
The midfield battle will be vital and for me the Dutch approach could backfire if Chile use their midfield runners effectively. Then again if Holland decide to sit a little deeper and counter, the Oranje could gain advantage by countering down the flanks where Chile can be defensively vulnerable. This is where Holland will get most space. Arjen Robben could be key. Chile are the best pressers of the ball in World football and if Holland decide to go head to head with them in this area then they are likely to come out second best. Enjoy.
Advised Bet – Both teams to score – 4/6 BetVictor
Cameroon v Brazil
Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
Date: Monday 23 June Kick-off: 21:00
Brazil have yet to set their World Cup alight. The pressure of HAVING to win the tournament is a heavy one. Cameroon have been much worse though, the thrashing they received from Croatia was a deserved one after the petulant Alex Song was sent off in the first half. The African side have paid for failing to get any sort of balance in the midfield that has no creation.
The aforementioned Alex Song, misses out after elbowing Mario Mandzukic in the back and Benoit Assou-Ekotto is likely not to be involved after head-butting team mate Benjamin Moukandjo. As you can see, all is not great in ‘camp Cameroon’. No injury news for Brazil but with four players, a yellow card away from missing out on the knockout game, they may choose to ‘rest’ some stars.
To put it simply I cannot see Cameroon scoring today. They have looked toothless all tournament and even more so now they have lost important players. The biggest issue the African side had some the start was the lack of creativity from the midfield, and this hasn’t been adjusted in any way.
This should be one way traffic for Brazil and Cameroon are likely to struggle with Dani Alves and Marcelo getting forward as often as possible. Against Mexico, Cameroon couldn’t cope with the wing backs and they are going to suffer similar issues today. Brazil have yet to put a show on for their fans yet, but this could be it.
Advised Bet – Brazil to win to nil – 4/6 SkyBet
Mexico v Croatia
Venue: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Date: Monday 23 June Kick-off: 21:00
This is a shootout for second place assuming Brazil win their game. Both sides come off positive results, with Mexico surprising many by snatching a point from Brazil while Croatia took apart Cameroon 4-0. I can’t imagine too many, if any changes for either side.
Mexico boss Miguel Herrera has indicated he will go with the same XI for the third game in the row. Croatia’s players struggled to put in too many poor performances in their comfortable victory.
This is going to be a tough game to call the result of, and could be a battle of the wide men. Croatia have looked surprisingly most dangerous down the wings with Ivan Perisic and Ivica Olic providing goals and assists in both games. With such influential players in the middle of the park with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, it has made Croatia far more dangerous with an alternative attacking threat.
Mexico also have given both Brazil and Cameroon problems with the ball out wide. Their wing backs, both bomb on continuously and with Dos Santos’ lateral movement between the lines, they look menacing in the last third.
I am expecting a close one, and I think we may see a Javier Hernandez introduction a little earlier here. His pace to get behind the back four may be required to take advantage of the slow Vedran Corluka who seems uncomfortable playing as high up the pitch Niko Kovac likes, whereas centre back partner Dejan Lovren is used to it at Southampton. This could be the difference late on.