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What to look out for in Australia v Netherlands: Socceroos face awesome Oranje

Goal Australia looks at the big issues leading into the Socceroos' second match of the World Cup, with defensive worries and the opposition's attacking flare pressing concerns

1. How will Ange Postecoglou replace Ivan Franjic?

Having learned that the Brisbane Roar defender is out of the tournament with a torn hamstring, Postecoglou described Ryan McGowan, who came on at right-back against Chile, as a 'solution'. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Shandong Luneng defender, nominally a centre-back but capable of filling in out wide, is the only solution.

The Socceroos boss could have no intention of doing anything other than playing McGowan there and just be attempting to keep his opposite number Louis van Gaal guessing (if the Netherlands coach even cares).

His alternatives are few and far between. The only other defender in the squad not already in the first-team picture is centre-back Bailey Wright, who may or may not be any better than McGowan as a stop-gap fullback.

Even more unlikely is switching to three at the back with two wingbacks, although that still doesn't solve the problem of who operates on the right. Mark Milligan, James Holland and Matt McKay all have the energy to play the position, but Postecoglou is highly unlikely to rip up his preferred formation and tactics after just one game.

2. Can Australia's defence cope with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie?

Bayern Munich forward Robben destroyed the reigning world champions with his pace on the counter in the Netherlands' 5-1 win over Spain. With Cesar Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba regularly caught up field in a vain attempt to provide a narrow La Roja with width, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique were powerless to stop Robben. Ryan McGowan and Jason Davidson would do well not to be quite so adventurous in Porto Alegre. But even with the help of the fullbacks, central pair Alex Wilkinson and Matthew Spiranovic must sit deeper than their hapless Spanish counterparts did.

Then there's the problem of Van Persie, who can score from anywhere and in any fashion. The Manchester United man can operate as a traditional centre-forward, holding the ball up and bringing team-mates into play. He can hang off the shoulder of the last defender and seize on quick balls in behind. Or he can roam across the forward line, dragging players out of position and creating space for team-mates. One of the toughest assignments in international football awaits for the Socceroos' backline.

3. Emphasis on Oranje to attack

It was the Netherlands who set out to defend and hit their opponents on the break last time out and - as we all know - it worked a treat, resulting in that stunning demolition of the holders. But the Dutch will be back on familiar territory this week, likely to dominate possession and take the game to the Socceroos.

Postecoglou's side will follow the same game-plan as they did against Chile, hopefully with more concentration and better execution of their defensive responsibilities. Lapses of the type that allowed Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia to score in Cuiaba will be mercilessly punished by Van Gaal's side.  

4. Crosses still Australia's best route to goal

Purveyor of slick, possession-based attacking football at Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, Postecoglou has made the pragmatic choice of maximising Cahill's aerial threat during his brief tenure in charge of the Socceroos. The coach knows a good thing when he sees one, and recognises that the head of the former Everton star remains his team's best attacking weapon.

The enterprise of wingbacks Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat will oblige Mathew Leckie and Tommy Oar to assist their respective fullbacks defensively, but Australia's wingers can also hope to catch the Netherlands' wide defenders high up the pitch and get in behind to try and pick out Cahill, who will still be favourite to beat one of the three Dutch centre-backs - Ron Vlaar, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij - in the air.

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