PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — After hammering Spain 5-1 in their World Cup opener, the Netherlands is hungry for more.
“We have three points and we want six more,” Wesley Sneijder said after practice on the eve of today’s Group B match against Australia.
Sneijder’s comment oozed an understandable confidence after his team’s demolition of the reigning world and European champions. But Sneijder made it clear that his teammates would not underestimate the Socceroos. Netherlands has not beaten Australia in their only three meetings.
“Certainly after a 5-1 win like that the outside world might think it will be easy, but we don’t,” Sneijder said, in an attempt to dampen the euphoria after the Dutch victory.
“We know what we have to do.”
Coach Louis van Gaal has a fully-fit squad for the Group B match, after defenders Ron Vlaar and Daley Blind recovered from minor knocks.
The question is whether he will need all his defenders or play a four-man defense to give him more attacking impetus.
Australia can’t just sit back against the Dutch — it desperately needs a win to get its World Cup back on track after losing its opening match 3-1 to Chile.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou hinted earlier in the day that his side will not only defend in an attempt to shut down Dutch forwards Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
“It will be a challenge for us to stop their attacking game, but the other side of that is: if we just try and defend for 90 minutes there will be only one result — and it won’t be in our favor,” Postecoglou said.
Van Gaal was not saying how exactly the Dutch plan to break down Australia — stick to the winning 5-3-2 formula he adopted to such breathtaking effect against attack-minded Spain, or revert to the traditional 4-3-3 system that was the foundation of Dutch “total football” in years gone by.
Belgium 2, Algeria 1
Algeria was on the verge of a major upset in their Group H opener Tuesday, taking the lead through a penalty in the 25th minute. Try as they might, Belgium’s attacking players just couldn’t break down Algeria’s defense.
In the end, it was the Belgian bench which found the way, with substitutes scoring twice for a 2-1 comeback win.
Algeria’s surprising lead stood for 45 minutes until Marouane Fellaini’s strong glancing header, with his back to goal, from a Kevin De Bruyne cross in the 70th.
Dries Mertens’ right-foot strike beat Algeria’s goalkeeper in the 80th after Eden Hazard saw him free on the right and set him up for the decider.
Russia 1 South Korea 1
Alexander Kerzhakov scored with one of his first touches after coming on as a substitute to earn Russia a 1-1 draw with South Korea on Tuesday in a World Cup match marked by the first big goalkeeping error of the tournament.
Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev spilled Lee Keun-ho’s speculative shot into his own net to gift South Korea a 68th-minute lead at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba in Group H.
But Kerzhakov bailed his teammate out, turning in a shot from close range in the 74th — three minutes after coming on as a substitute — to rescue a point for Russia in a poor-quality match.