23 June 2014 | News Comments

Previews: Monday's World Cup Group B games

1700, Arena da Baixada
Australia v Spain

While only pride is at stake for both sides, the furious Spanish public will demand the holders bow out with three points. Without a goal from open play after two matches, Vincente Del Bosque looks set to ring the changes. Australia, for their part, will be without star man Tim Cahill after he picked up two yellow cards in his all-action displays.

Will the Spanish be outflanked once more?
If Australia, who put in fine performances despite being beaten by both Chile and Netherlands, are to claim the scalp of the current world champions, they will need to exploit the wings. Australia scored 56% of their qualifying goals from the flanks and their consolation against Chile arrived from a right-wing cross.

Late pain for Spain?
It is hard to believe given their leaky defence in the last two weeks, but Spain conceded just three times on the road to Brazil and all arrived during the final 15 minutes of qualifying matches. That statistic will given the Australians hope they can head back home with a smile on their faces. They often left it late during qualification; 52% of their goals arrived during the final 15 minutes of games.

Up close and personal
Both of these teams have preferred to get the ball as close to the goal as possible before letting fly, with only Chile taking a greater share of shots from inside the six-yard box than these two at the tournament so far. Spain have suffered more challenges than any side at the tournament so far and have only kept hold of the ball in 5% of these, so the more spirited Aussies look likely to impose themselves at close quarters here.

Summary
With Spain almost certain to give some of the younger talent in their ranks a chance to prove their worth in the dead rubber, it is hard to predict how this encounter will pan out. Given the low expectations surrounding their young, transitional squad, Australia will leave Brazil with their heads held high regardless of the outcome here.

Best bookmakers’ odds available
Spain 40-85 
Draw 39-10 
Australia 7-1 

Netherlands v Chile
1700, Arena Corinthians

Netherlands and Chile could only have dreamt that qualification out of Group B would be secured ahead of their meeting in Sao Paulo - but having seen off Spain and Australia this clash has now become the battle to avoid Brazil.

Both sides know victory would mean they would tackle Mexico or Croatia in the round of 16 instead of a showdown with the tournament hosts.

While Arturo Vidal, Stefan de Vrij, Eugenio Mena and Jonathan de Guzman are likely to be given the evening off having picked up a booking earlier in the group stage, both sides will be determined to make it three wins from three.

Chile may require Dutch courage
If Netherlands strike first it could leave Chile with an uphill task. The Dutch may have needed to take the lead on two occasions to eventually see off the plucky Australian resistance last week but it is extremely rare that they throw away points.

Louis van Gaal's men took 93% of possible points from winning positions during qualifying and continued that fine record against Spain and Australia. That form will not make easy reading for a Chile side that failed to take any of their points having fallen behind en route to Brazil.

Goals galore
With Netherlands's relentless attack having rattled in eight goals in 180 minutes during the tournament so far and Chile catching the eye of the world with their attacking flair and pace - this game has goals written all over it even without the involvement of the suspended Robin van Persie. Chile may have kept a clean sheet against the misfiring Spaniards but that was a rarity for them having done so in just 31% of qualifying clashes - while Netherlands scored in every single one.

Sharp shooting
This encounter pits two of the most clinical attacks in Brazil against each other, so it would be a surprise if it were to bring down the impressive average number of goals per game we've enjoyed so far. While it's taken an average of a little more than eight shots to produce a goal at this tournament, these two sides have needed less than half that to bag each of theirs. Chile have scored with every three shots and Netherlands with every 3.3 on average, and while the latter may not be sustainable without Van Persie, the Dutch have plenty of other goalscorers in their ranks.

Summary
A bonus match for both sides but the clear incentive of an easier draw in the next round means both will be trying to win. Given their superior goal difference, it is possible Netherlands will be content with a draw, and they may even catch out an already-expansive Chile as they go for broke. Neither will want to lose the momentum built up during their opening two matches, so there is still enough at stake here to make this an enjoyable contest.

Best bookmakers’ odds available
Netherlands 17-10
Draw 13-5
Chile 7-4