They’re the team everyone’s talking about. In their World Cup opener Holland thrashed 2010 champions Spain 5-1. Wow! Now the Dutch move onto soccer’s downtrodden, mistreated and inglorious – Australia. The stereotyped ruffians, and technically barren Socceroos have a line up dominated by international rookies, with a spattering of proven pros. How can they beat Holland?
Thanks largely to a supportive media coverage, Australia’s 3-1 loss to Chile has bet met with hope and positivity. As stated in my previous posting, there is a real ‘feel good factor’ reverberating around the Socceroos. They’re young, energetic, and manager Ange Postecoglou has them believing they can beat anyone. Being a realist I don’t believe that, but I sure as hell think they can get something from an overrated Dutch outfit.
On Australia’s side is history and psychology. The pair has played three times previously for one Australian victory and two draws. In those three matches we’ve seen a measly five goals.
In terms of psychology let’s face it, Australia is not a big scalp for Holland and never has been. The Dutch mindset will be ‘get through this match without injury’, and ‘get through this match without yellow cards’. They’re already thinking about a possible date with Brazil in the round of 16. Seriously, would the world be saying “wow!”, if the Dutch do as expected and beat Australia? No. The Oranje will be going through the motions.
To illustrate my point about complacency I’ll turn to Daniel Garb’s interview with Holland manager Louis Van Gaal. Asked about the ‘head to head’ history of the two nations Van Gaal replied, “the statistics say that the Netherlands never have won from Australia.” Van Gaal surprised the interviewer, but poignantly the 62 year old had a wry smile on his face after delivering that tasty little morsel. The Dutch are aware of Tim Cahill and the history, but in the back of their minds they think it’s a certain three points.
So an over confident Holland will arrive in Porto Alegre having scored five goals against Spain – three from long balls and two that could be attributed to goalkeeping blunders. Applying a little perspective, we would all agree Holland are not four goals better than Spain, it was a once in a lifetime event.