Australia, considered among the favourites for the title, has had a strong run in the World Cup thus far. The Kookaburras topped a relatively comfortable pool by scoring 20 goals while letting in five in return.
Ahead of their quarterfinal against Spain at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday, one parameter which will put them ahead of the contenders is their exceptional penalty corner conversion rate.
Australia has scored seven goals from 20 penalty corners – most in the tournament – and has two powerful drag-flickers in Jeremy Hayward and Blake Govers. Hayward has struck four times, while Govers and Daniel Beale have one apiece. Spain, which has conceded nine penalty corners, will be wary of giving away easy fouls inside the area. The Aussies also have goal threats across the line with Tom Craig scoring four.
At the other end, Spain has scored from one of its 14 penalty corner attempts in four matches. The European nation has also scored the least number of goals (7) among the quarterfinalists. Head coach Max Caldas felt his team should have completed the job in regulation time in what turned out to be a penalty shootout win over Malaysia in the crossovers.
The team is overreliant on midfielder Marc Miralles to produce some spark in attack, while the young attackers showed glimpses of their technical quality in the last game.
Spain prefers to play the possession game, and it may not find much joy against Australia, which is comfortable playing both with the ball and playing a more direct game. The inexperienced Spanish team was toyed with by England in the pool stage and will not want a repeat of the same or much worse.