Australia
needs goals and more than one (we’re not going to mention a dreaded penalty
shootout) to progress to the World Cup finals in Germany next
year. We have to score or else we’re not going to be part of the biggest
sporting event in the world… again.

Uruguay
is going to play it tight – allowing the Australians little space to work in – and
attempt to expose Australia on the break with the pace
of their attacking players. Yet if those opportunities don’t arise, they are
confident their defence can keep Australia scoreless. They will try to
waste time by hoofing balls into the stands, bickering with the referee,
feigning injury and playing for free-kicks. Australia has to stay calm and not fall into the
trap of conceding free-kicks within “Recoba Range” (any distance within 40 yards of
the Australian goal).

Do not expect a pretty game, but an
Australian goal in the first half will boost the crowd and the team in Sydney. A good Australian
performance in the first 20 minutes is vitally important to get the crowd
onside. A lack of Australian chances and time wasting by the Uruguayans could
silence the Sydney crowd and lead to an
atmosphere that will give Uruguay confidence. The crowd could
be Australia’s 12th player on the
pitch.

Hiddink has not given away any hints
as to what the Australian line-up may be on Wednesday night though we expect
Mark Viduka to be partnered up front by Thompson or Aloisi. It would be a
surprise if Kewell played the full 90 minutes of football after such a short
break. Hiddink will probably use Kewell as a halftime sub when the Uruguayan’s
legs are heavy and Kewell can skip past them.

Following the poor free kicks in
Montevideo (Mark Viduka’s attempt aside)
Australia needs a more potent weapon
in this area. Marco Bresciano can generate pace on his freekicks and he has a
knack for popping up with a goal for Australia.

Tim Cahill will play a role in this
game and he could start. He is our best player at timing his runs into the box.
There are going to be a lot of balls rebounding out of Australia’s box
and players like Cahill, Culina and Bresciano can score from distance. Cahill is
a dangerous player in the air and will provide another option to get on the end
of Bresciano’s set pieces.

We need pace out wide to pull the
tight Uruguay defence apart. Stan Lazaridis
is fresh, loves getting wide and could provide a dangerous alternative to
Chipperfield on the left. Lazaridis always rises to the occasion for
Australia
too.

Vidmar was outstanding in defence in
Uruguay but it remains to be seen if
his 35-year-old legs will have recovered in time to carry him for another 90,
possibly 120 minutes, of football. Emerton could provide a better option at
right back, loves getting forward, and fits Hiddink’s preference for mobile,
flexible players.

When the right back goes forward,
expect the left back to slot into a back three and vice versa. This will give
Australia both width and strength in
defence.

For Uruguay, Diego Forlan and Diego
Lopez will not take part in Wednesday’s game. However Lopez was only filling in
for the experienced and highly regarded Diego Lugano who will take his place. It
looks like Uruguay will bring in Gustavo Varela
to form a three man shield in front of the defence with Diego Perez and Real
Madrid’s Pablo Garcia. On the wings Recoba and Estoyanoff – who looked very
dangerous when he came on Saturday – will try to knock Australia out on
the counter attack. Richard Morales will be a lone striker up
front.

Estoyanoff may be used in the second
half but if Australia scores
a goal his pace will definitely be employed by the Uruguay coach
Jorge Fosatti. Expect fouls aplenty as Uruguay will try to shut down the game and any
Australian threat, however we are confident that Mark and the boys can do
Australia proud.

Prediction: 2-0 to the
Australians – Viduka: 42mins, Cahill: 67 mins (a nervous final 20
minutes).

Henry Thornton has the full preview here.