Bluffer's Guide to Socceroos v Holland

Impress your mates by rattling off Socceroo insights, stats and historical facts ahead of the big game against the Flying Dutchmen on Thursday morning (2am) Aussie time.

World Rankings

Netherlands: 15

Australia: 62 

Stat bluff

Australia has actually won the World Cup and they thrashed the Dutch 6-1 in the final to take home the trophy… in hockey. Okay so it might not be quite the same thing but perhaps the Socceroos can take some inspiration from the Kookaburras and make it a double Dutch treat. 

In reality, the Socceroos have never lost to the Netherlands in a competitive football match and actually hold a winning record against the European powerhouse. They have played on three occasions with two matches ending in draws while Australia enjoyed a stirring 2-1 win in Eindhoven in 2008.

Key players


Robin van Persie

He was almost unplayable against Spain the opening match and his unbelievable super-man impression for Holland’s equaliser sent Twitter into a frenzy. The Manchester United superstar scored twice against Spain and will again be the main man up front for the 'Oranje'.

Arjen Robben

Love him or hate him, there is no doubt that this guy can seriously play. The Bayern Munich winger also bagged a double against Spain which marked a third consecutive World Cup where he has found the back of the net. His sublime ball control and dynamic acceleration make him a nightmare for defenders to contain and the Socceroos will have to keep him on a short leash. Robben can be a rocks or diamonds type player with a large ego and Australian fans will be hoping this gets the better of him on Thursday morning (AEST). 


Tim Cahill

There are no words that can describe just important this guy is to the Socceroos. At 34, he is supposed to be in the ‘twilight’ of his career but he is still undoubtedly Australia’s most important player.

Mat Ryan

Copping three goals in your World Cup debut is hardly ideal but the 22-year-old Club Brugge shot-stopper will be vital to the Socceroos’ chances against the Dutch. The Belgian goalkeeper of the year, despite only a handful of appearances for Australia, looks more than comfortable at international level. His ability to play as a sweeper allows Australia to keep the ball under pressure and will be important against a world-class Dutch outfit.

Key match ups 

Alex Wilkinson/Matthew Spiranovic v Robin van Persie

Australia’s relatively inexperienced central defensive pairing face an enormous task of containing the Manchester United superstar. Van Persie is a complete footballer gifted with superb technique, power, poise and a handy shot to boot. No easy task for even the world’s best defenders. It will be important for Spiranovic and Wilkinson to work in unison for 90 minutes and restrict the time and space Van Persie is allowed on the ball. Easier said than done, though. 

Jason Davidson/Ryan McGowan v Arjen Robben

Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal has employed Robben on both the left and right flanks in recent internationals and Australia’s fullbacks will have to be prepared for either eventuality. Both Socceroos are relatively inexperienced at this level and will have their work cut out for them stopping the Bayern Munich superstar. Robben is likely to see a stack of the ball against Australia and nulling his influence will give the Socceroos a chance. 

Tim Cahill v Ron Vlaar

Australia’s best chance of a goal is again likely to come from Cahill. The New York Red Bulls striker was unstoppable in the air against Chile but he will come up against a far sterner challenge in Vlaar. The centre-back plies his trade in England with Aston Villa and his strong presence in the air will provide a far more difficult proposition. 

Nigel de Jong v Mark Bresciano

Bresciano is the creative outlet in the Socceroos midfield and he showed his class against Chile with his composure on the ball and ability to pick a pass. The Al Gharafa midfielder will be crucial to the Socceroos attack especially given opportunities are likely to be limited against a World class Dutch outfit. De Jong is a hardman in the centre of the park and will look to curb the influence of Australia’s most creative player. A clash that could decide the outcome of the match. 

Recent history of Socceroos v Netherlands

2009 – Socceroos 0 Netherlands 0 (Sydney Football Stadium)

2008 – Netherlands 1 Socceroos 2 (Eindhoven) Kewell 42’, Kennedy 76’

2006 – Netherlands 1 Socceroos 1 (Rotterdam) Cahill 55’

Host City – Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre lies upon the banks of the Guaíba River, right at the junction point of five other rivers, which together form the enormous Lagoa dos Patos (Ducks Lagoon). The city’s 497 square kilometres are home to more than one million trees, making it one of the greenest cities in Brazil.   

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