The group B’s sixth match will be played between the two teams who have already been knocked out of the tournament; Spain and Australia.
And despite losing both their games, both teams have had a contrasting tournament. Spain’s tournament was disappointing with them being unable to even put up a fight, whereas Australia tried hard but absence of a world-class influential player hampered their chances to go forward. Add to that some blips in the concentration and Australia are still on zero points as well.
Australia’s team from 2010 was a bit low key if you consider the players playing for them but this time around they have a young team with many players from top European leagues (although most of them are important players in their team set and not exactly world beaters).
Aging Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano are two father-figures in the team and both of them have had a great tournament so far. However, Cahill’s World Cup dream has ended with him being suspended for the last group match against Spain while Bresciano was hauled off in the second half struggling with a little niggle and will be out for the clash against Spain.
Spain’s dismal performance against Netherlands and Chile showed why there needs to be a change of guard.
Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso are now on the wrong side of their 30s and we must accept that however influential they are they won’t be around for too much longer.
The relatively younger midfielders like Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Juan Mata should be given chances to prove themselves and this could be the best game to hand over the responsibility.
Spain also need to get the defence sorted out, with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique not exactly compatible. Javi Martinez is not really a centre back and he does his holding midfield duties perfectly so Spain needs to looks beyond them to find a commanding presence like Carles Puyol.
Also, Diego Costa’s struggles upfront means either the system needs to change or an alternative should be found out to accommodate him or other younger striker.
The game could really be anybody’s with Australia coming close to winning the game against Netherlands while Spain will like to win at least one game to end the tournament on a high. With nothing but pride at stake this match is likely to be an experimental one for both but you of course have to favour Spain with their strength in depth and with Cahill and Bresciano ruled out.
Australia could well introduce pace on their wings and through the centre with injury to Bresciano and Cahill’s suspension.
Coach Ange Postecoglou will have some selection concerns with central midfielder Mark Milligan also missing his second match. He might go with Ben Halloran upfront with Oliver Bozanic instead of Bresciano. Bozanic impressed in the match against Netherlands with his pace and trickery a major asset.
Spain’s midfield could see more shuffle as Xavi might not feature once more with the creative responsibilities falling on Andres Iniesta and Silva. Coach Vincente del Bosque might give a chance to the younger players like Koke and David de Gea being the last match for Spain. De Gea has been injured in the competition, so it remains to be seen whether he has recovered enough to make the side for this one.
Spain to win: 4/9 (bet365)
Over 2.5 goals to be scored: 4/7 (bet365)
Both teams to score: 5/6 (Paddy Power)