Group B: Australia vs. Netherlands

What’s at stake

The Netherlands thrashed reigning champs Spain in one of the most shocking opening-match results in World Cup history.

Spain was considered the king of Group B before the first game. No longer. The Netherlands now look very good to top this group.

Having found the net so often against Spain, the Dutch will be hungry for more against a weaker — but spirited — Australian side.

The Spanish conquest aside, the Netherlands have never actually defeated Australia. In their three previous encounters — all friendlies — the Socceroos have one win and two draws.​

Impact players

  • Australia: Tim Cahill. A goal scorer against Chile, Cahill is a fabulous striker and an inspiring leader. He’ll have even more pressure on his shoulders in this second game.
  • Netherlands: Robin van Persie. Two goals, one header for the ages, and a romping performance against Spain. Can anyone stop Van Persie?​

What to watch for

Long passes and fast running. The Netherlands like both, and the Aussies will have to shut all this down, constantly, if they want to stay in the game.

Hard challenges. This may be the only way the Socceroos can shut down the Oranje.

They said it

  • ''I called him a cheat. And he said 'yes, I'm a cheat, so what?’” — Tim Cahill, speaking with reporters, about his chat with Chilean marker Gonzalo Jara.
  • ''To be quite honest, we did not expect it. This has got to do with strategy and the dedication of the players to execute with conviction.'' — Luis Van Gaal, manager for the Netherlands, commenting to the Associated Press on his team’s huge win over Spain.​

The Big Number

37 — Seems like an obscure number. But it’s the top speed — in kilometres per hour — of Arjen Robben in his match against Spain when scoring his second goal of the game in the 80th minute. It’s a FIFA world record for speed. In other words, he’s lightning fast. And the ball seems glued to his feet. This is sure to worry Australia.

Obligatory Fun Fact

Robin van Persie’s 17-yard header — a highlight goal we’ll be watching again and again for years — was the longest headed goal at a World Cup since Bulgaria’s Nasko Sirakov in 1986.