With day 7 we will complete the first week of the 2014 World Cup. Cameroon and Croatia will play the final match of the day to close the action in Group A while in Group B, Spain will try to rebound from their opening loss against Chile and the Netherlands will hope to carry on that momentum into their match against Australia.
Spain started the last World Cup with a loss and we all know how that ended. The goal difference this time wasn’t very helpful and yet two wins and things should be alright considering both Chile and Australia still have to play the Dutch team. The big question will be whether or not Vicente Del Bosque is going to create some sort of revolution in his lineup and maybe even his tactics, with the first question having to do with Diego Costa, who didn’t fit in with the passing game before everything fell apart anyway.
Chile will have to adapt. Counter attacking is the only way to play against this Spain side, although it proved to be a very sound and successful approach for the Netherlands last weekend. However, Chile aren’t exactly a team filled with target men. They have the shortest squad in the competition, and prefer moving the ball on the ground instead of in the air, and possibly rely too heavily on Alexis Sanchez. On the other hand, Arturo Vidal might be returning.
Spain might want and need to get back to basics – no strikers and full on passing game. It might not be what’s trendy, but it works best for their squad. Only things need to happen quicker when they start moving the ball. Putting the match to sleep simply doesn’t work anymore, but scoring early on more than just one controversial goal from the penalty spot would do a lot to help them dely the inevitable a little bit longer.
For Australia, this is now or never facing the Netherlands. However, their style might be a bit more difficult to crack for the Dutch side, enjoying the vast spaces behind the Spanish defense and not having to worry about possession. Against Australia it will be different, and it won’t be just Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie on the break. And still, almost everything in this matchup is in favor of the Netherlands.
All eyes for the Socceroos will be on two players: Mathew Leckie who was fantastic against Chile and has a chance to further improve his standing among the global scouts attending and watching from afar, probably taking him out of the second German Bundesliga. There will also be the issue of the right back, with Ryan McGowan filling that role, and hoping he doesn’t get exposed like in a friendly match against Brazil and Neymar.
Netherlands can wrap up qualification if things go their way, as they should according to the talent difference between the two teams. If Robben and Van Persie get the kind of space they had against the Spanish team, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The day ends with Cameroon and Croatia, getting something of a lifeline from both Mexico and Brazil. However, only one of them will benefit from that draw, and at the moment it looks like Croatia will be the team to do it. Why? Samuel Eto’o probably won’t be playing, and even though he wasn’t very effective in the first match, Cameroon simply don’t have anyone who can score for them.
Croatia ae getting Mario Mandzukic back, which means we’ll see a lot more crossing and danger in their set pieces compared to the performance against Brazil. They hold a huge edge in the middle of the pitch with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, and if they’re able to move the ball quickly towards the last third of the pitch, the weak Cameroonian defense will struggle keeping up with the pace and movement.