This is a must win match for Spain. Although they are eliminated from the World Cup, Spanish fans would not want to live with the shame of leaving Brazil without seeing their nation win a match. After two matches where the Spanish were outplayed, Vicente del Bosque will have a lot to think about. Australia gave the Netherlands a hard time in their second match and look to be the third team to defeat Spain. The 2010 World Cup winners need to control the match, give young players an opportunity, and (once again) cover counter attacks.
Control the Match
In both matches against Netherlands and Chile, Spain were chasing almost all of 180 minutes. We were accustomed to seeing Spain manage games at their tempo. Teams struggled to keep up with the Spanish midfield and penetrate the strong defense. And this time around, Holland and Chile pressed the Spanish midfield, forcing mistakes in the middle that led to counters and goals.
Although it is likely Australia will sit back in their own than press up high, La Furia Roja need to secure possession in the middle in order to play at the tempo they want to play. There is still trouble in the striker position, and the defense have allowed 7 goals in 2 matches; therefore, the midfield is the only position that can glue this team back together.
I am starting to sound like a broken record; nevertheless, I will continue to rant about counter-attacks. Holland’s first two goals on Spain came from counter-attacks. Chile’s first goal against the Spanish came from a fast break as well. In case you have not seen Australia play in Group B matches– just as Holland and Chile– Australia like to score from counters.
Fortunately for Ramos and the other Spanish backs, Australia’s best striker, Tim Cahill, will not be on the field due to the accumulation of yellow cards. That’s one less striker for them to worry about.The back four need to have a better understanding of each other. Their chemistry seems low. Jordi Alba and Cesar Azpilicueta (assuming they start) need to read the game and not go up so often. Australia’s full-backs enjoy moving up the field into open space. They will take advantage of Alba’s hazardous movements.
Look to the Future
As I mentioned in my previous article, this World Cup demonstrated that it is the end of a generation. Del Bosque must realize that Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, and others have given their best to their nation. Whether Del Bosque will be the Spain’s manager once the World Cup ends, he should give the younger players an opportunity to build experience.
Koke, Cazorla, Martinez, and De Gea are few names that should be in the next starting line up. Koke can deliver the direct football that the Spanish need not just for the next game but for the future. We witnessed Cazorla’s hunger to play in the few minutes he played against Chile. Players such as Sergio Busquets, need to be shown that their starting position is not secured. At times through the previous games, players looked like they lost the will to win. If De Gea is healthy for the game against Australia, Casillas should watch the final match from the sidelines.
There is much to be expected from this last game. My expectations is that Del Bosque will allow others time to play that have no touched the green. I imagine we will see Villa play his last World Cup tournament. Maybe Juanfran will start over Azpilicueta. Spain have nothing to lose and much to gain with youth players waiting to present themselves to the world.