Australia NT FIFA World Cup 2014

World Cup Preview: Australia

1:06 PMAleks Vee

Group B: Australia


Like Mexico's national team, the Socceroos are going through a period of transition. Ange Postecoglou took over from Holger Osieck as manager in October of last year. Many expect the decorated Australian A-League specialist to feature a much younger side that will bring a breath of fresh air - and possibly silverware - for the national team.

Predicted Squad

Goalkeepers:
Matthew Ryan
Brad Jones
Mitchell Langerak

22-year-old Matt Ryan already has five caps for the senior team and is likely to start, with Liverpool's Brad Jones as his double. Ryan kept a record of 12 clean sheets last season, more than any other goalkeeper in the A-League.

Defenders:
RB Luke Wilkshire
CB Matthew Spiranovic
RB/CB Ryan McGowan
RB/RM Ivan Franjic
LB Jason Davidson
CB Curtis Good
CB Alex Wilkinson
LB Michael Zullo

Earlier doubts on Luke Wilkshire's presence in the tournament are unlikely to mar his chances for a call-up. The Dynamo Moscow right back saw more playing time in recent RPL games. Newcastle's Curtis Good may feature as well.

Midfielders:
AM Brett Holman
CM Mile Jedinak
DM Mark Milligan
AM/RW Dario Vidosic
LW Tommy Oar
DM James Holland
AM Tom Rogic
RM Adam Sarota

Brett Holman, who scored against Ghana and Serbia in the last World Cup, will be one of the more experienced players leading the Socceroos' midfield. One of Australia's few EPL players, Chris Herd, is likely to miss out on the tournament due to his hamstring injury. Mile Jedinak wore the captain's armband in the recent friendly against Ecuador. The Crystal Palace midfielder will likely bring his success at the club level to the national team.

Forwards:
Tim Cahill
Matthew Leckie
Josh Kennedy
Tomi Juric

Mitchell Duke or Tomi Juric? That is the question for Postecoglu should he choose two veteran strikers plus Leckie, leaving only one spot for a younger forward. New York Red Bulls forward Tim Cahill is a no-brainer; having recently returned from a hamstring injury, he's one of the few top-level forwards the Socceroos have at their disposal. Josh Kennedy featured in the last WC. He's been going strong in the J. League, which may give him an edge over the younger contenders. Should Postecoglu go for a younger forward, 20-year-old Adam Taggart is an option. The Newcastle Jets player has been voted by fans as one of the Socceroos' most underrated players.

Result Predictions:

vs Spain: 1-3
The first-ever game in this matchup will undoubtedly leave the reigning World Cup champions victorious. The World Cup has its share of surprises, however.

vs Netherlands: 2-2
Australia have never played an official game against the Netherlands. Since being runners-up in the last World Cup, the Oranje have taken a backseat to teams like Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S. A resultative draw against the Socceroos waits.  

vs Chile: 2-3
The team ranked right above the Netherlands, Chile last met Australia in the World Cup during the group stage of the 1974 tournament. That meeting ended in a scoreless draw. The teams have since faced off in friendlies, all of which ended in favor of Chile. It'll be a close call this time around, but Chile will emerge victorious.

Predicted Group Stage Finish:

Spain
Chile
Netherlands
Australia

Trivia:

* Australia's friendly against Ecuador in March featured a roster of players with club careers in 13 different countries.
* In the 2010 World Cup, Australia didn't make it out of their group on goal difference.
* After missing out on the tournament for 32 years, Australia gave its best World Cup performance to date in 2006, reaching the Round of 16. They were eliminated by a 10-man Italy when referee Luis Medina Cantalejo gave a controversial penalty in the final seconds of added time. (Fabio Grosso fell over Lucas Neill in the box.) The decision to send off Italy's Marco Materazzi for a tackle on Australia's Marco Bresciano was deemed controversial as well, though the challenge does appear reckless. Italy went on to win the tournament.
* The Socceroos' most famous WC-related match was probably their record-breaking 31:0 win over American Samoa in the Qualifying games for the 2002 tournament. Archie Thompson scored 13 goals, the most thus far in an international match.
* Australia's last silverware was the 2004 OFC Nations Cup. Along with New Zealand, the Socceroos have the most titles (4). It is the only tournament the national team has won.

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