World Cup 2014: Australia Preview – Ryan to shine; Cahill to lead by example

Go Socceroos Australia Fan

Australia face a tough task to get out of a World Cup group including Holland, Chile and Spain, but you can rest assured they will give it their best shot.

The perception

Given Australia’s group they look destined to be the weak-link with Holland, Spain and Chile all expected to win against the Socceroos. Considering they will face the two sides who competed in the previous World Cup final along with dark horses Chile, few will give them a chance of qualifying.

The reality

Their first group game against Chile is vital. Lose that and they will be hard-pressed to do anything besides finish bottom. But a win and they will know that they just might cause an upset if they can play the game of their lives against either the reigning champions or the Dutch. Although in truth, an early trip home with perhaps one point at most looks the most likely option.

Strengths

Anyone who has watched Australia in recent World Cups will know they fight hard and have both grit and determination. But that is unlikely to get them very far against the very best the world has to offer. They still have the likes of Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak, and the latter will be hoping to take his Crystal Palace form onto the biggest stage of all.

Weaknesses

Cahill is getting on a bit and there is a distinct lack of quality in the squad. They have a number of experienced players and a smattering of youth, but with the former Everton star likely to forge a loan furrow up front, they are unlikely to score enough goals to win a game or two, especially when you consider their opponents.

Key Player

Cahill, without a doubt, remains their key man. The most prolific goal-scorer in Australian footballing history he will hope to go out with a bang. Most players are just players, but Cahill is a true legend of the game in his homeland and his presence could inspire a fairy-tale start against the Chileans.

One to Watch

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan can expect a busy few games between the sticks. But he has the ability to excel in Brazil and this could be the springboard for a big move that his talent fully deserves. The 22-year-old currently plays for Belgian side Club Brugge and has a contract there for another two seasons. But if he plays to his potential, expect the rumours to start up pretty quickly.

Verdict

They will fight hard on the pitch and put in a good account of themselves, but they are unlikely to win any of their group games. A star or two could be born from this side, while Cahill will hope to get on the score-sheet at least once in what will almost certainly be his final World Cup. But that may be the best they can hope for.

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