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Everyone loves an Underdog, but what chance Australia against Holland

By: Alistair Wiseman 16 Jun 2014 12:44:19

Everyone loves an Underdog, but what chance Australia against Holland

I have a certain affection for Australia. I lived there for a while, my son was born there, and it's home to more bitey poisonous, pernicious things than you can shake a stick at, so it brings back memories of my family life growing up in Crewe. When you finish bottom of the league like Crewe Alexandra used to do, back in those days, you're almost obligated to root for, (Yes I said "Root"! Stop sniggering any Australians reading this!), the underdog because your local team are never anything else!

But seriously, is it possibly for the Socceroos to pull a wallaby out of the hat and give Netherlands a game on Wednesday? This would be the same Netherlands who made the current World and European Champions Spain look like Arsenal playing a top 3 side last season away from home. Arsenal conceded cumulatively 17 in those games, and Australia are ranked a full 61 places below Spain in the FIFA world rankings. If Robin van Persie and co. are feeling like another statement of intent is needed, double figures is not beyond the realms of possibility and yet, that might be the exact thing which hands Australia their chance. Overconfidence.

It's a long shot, especially with Louis van Gaal at the helm, but it would not be the first time a team thought to themselves, "We've got this in the (tucker)bag", before kickoff, only to find that they can't then raise their game when required. One look at Uruguay's game against Costa Rica can show that, although the gulf between Uruguay and Costa Rica in the ranking s is nothing like that of the Dutch and the Aussies. Contempt for the opposition, especially for a team with Tim Cahill loitering with intent in your penalty area, can lead to catastrophic results, and the Australian team are tenacious enough to hang on to a lead if presented an opportunity to do so. They demonstrated admirable spirit in their first game, and were arguably unlucky to be on the end of a 3-1 defeat to Chile.

Ultimately though, this will come down to how much the Dutch want it. Nothing says "We're up for this competition!" than two straight games scoring 5 or more, and the opportunity is there to do just that.

I live in the Netherlands nowadays, and have done for 7 years. I'm married to a Dutch lady, but do my drinking in a local Australian bar where so far I've watched most of this year's World Cup games. The air of expectation is palpable here after the result against Spain and peer pressure from friends and neighbours, (not to mention the better half!), suggests I should be shouting "Hup Holland Hup" and donning the orangiest (yes, it's a real word, I checked!) things I can find, but... my love for Australia is hard to shake off.

Everyone loves an underdog... but Australia are more than that! They're the Down-Underdogs! If that doesn't elicit a smile and a discrete "Throw another ball on the Cahill" cheer, I don't know what will. And so what if by that time they're 3-0 down. A nation who can invent a boomerang must surely be able to mastermind an impressive comeback!


DSG

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