After their soul-crushing semifinal defeats, Australia and Netherlands will have to pick up the pieces and go again in the World Cup third-place match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Both teams have the most number of goals in the tournament, but will not be fighting for the biggest prize later in the evening.
Despite the goals, Australia hasn’t been its dominant self. The Kookaburras eked out a 3-3 draw against Argentina, needed a seven-minute dominant spell to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the Spain quarterfinal and blew a 2-0 and 3-2 lead in the Germany semifinal. While Australia was exposed on the left side by Spain, Germany targeted the right.
The Aussies struggled to get a hold of possession as Germany kept penetrating their circle repeatedly for the best part of the match and eventually conceded the winner with just six seconds left.
The Dutch, too, let their advantage slip twice as the inexperienced team – 11 debutants in the World Cup – lost in the penalty shootout to reigning champion Belgium.
Both Australia and the Netherlands are dangerous in turnovers and will look to minimise cheap giveaways in possession in the middle third of the turf. Attacking midfielders Tom Craig and Jorrit Croon will be influential in carrying the ball through the middle and creating chances for the forwards.
Another facet that could decide the outcome of the game will be the use of penalty corners with both sides scoring 11 from them. The Aussies though have a better conversion rate from their 32 attempts, compared to the Dutch’s 36. Jeremy Hayward has sounded the board on eight occasions, while Jip Jansen has scored six from short corners.
The fans at Kalinga can expect a goal-scoring encounter before the final.