World Cup 2014 Preview: Australia a big underdog in '14

 

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The 2010 World Cup saw Australia finish the group stage with the same 1-1-1 record as it did in 2006 to end level with Ghana on four points apiece, but the African nation advanced to the knockout round with a superior goal difference.

The next logical step for Australia is to establish itself in the knockout round, but given the nation's extremely difficult draw, it may have to wait another four years to make some noise on the biggest stage.

The Socceroos were placed in Group B along with Spain, the Netherlands and Chile, a stacked collection of teams that undoubtedly makes Ange Postecoglou's men massive underdogs.

The inexperience in Australia's squad certainly won't help matters.

Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano are the only two members of the team with more than 50 caps, making them two of the country's most important pieces.

Cahill has featured for Australia in 2006 and 2010 and even became the first Australian player to score in World Cup play by netting two goals against Japan on June 12, 2006.

The 34-year-old has been plying his trade in Major League Soccer for Red Bull New York, but he has gained plenty of top-level experience through his time with Everton in the English Premier League.

Bresciano, also 34, boasts a great deal of experience in Serie A having represented the likes of Parma, Palermo and Lazio, but he has not played in Italy's top flight since 2011. He has since toiled in Middle Eastern club football, playing for Al Nasr until 2012 before making the switch to Qatar to join up with Al-Gharafa.

Mile Jedinak is another key player for Australia. The 29-year-old is the nation's captain and is coming off of an impressive season with Crystal Palace. He will be tasked with guiding the Socceroos from his holding position in the center of midfield.

But Australia lacks any sort of experience at the back, specifically in goal. Mark Schwarzer, the nation's all-time leader in appearances with 109 caps, was last capped on September 8, 2013. His absence raises major questions as to how Australia can fill the leadership void as no goalkeeper on the squad has made more than eight international appearances.

Tommy Oar is a player to monitor over the course of the tournament. The 22- year-old winger is a bright prospect and can create opportunities by running at players, but with so much collective inexperience in the team, it's doubtful that it will help the Socceroos avoid a quick exit.

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