Australia caused the shock of the tournament so far when they defeated highly fancied Argentina 2-0. They will now be looking to secure a place in the quarter-finals with another upset win over Spain.
Despite being heavy underdogs, a superb defensive performance led by captain Thomas Deng ensured that Australia successfully nullified a talented Argentinian side and won their first Olympic match since 2008.
The Olyroos benefitted from some good fortune, with Argentina’s Francisco Ortega controversially receiving two yellow cards within the space of two minutes.
However, Australia still created a number of great goal scoring opportunities outside the goals and were deserved winners at the Sapporo Dome.
Opponents Spain were involved in another surprise result. Despite boasting a star-studded squad, La Rojita were unable to break down a stubborn Egypt defence and were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw.
Spain controlled possession, hit the post and created a flurry of late chances, but were unable to capitalise.
To further compound the disappointment, Oscar Mingueza and Dani Ceballos were forced off with injury.
Spain will be desperate to put that setback behind them and grab a win that will put their Olympic campaign back on track.
Another win over quality opposition and passage to the quarter-finals for Australia would leave them on cloud nine.
However, a draw would still be more than welcome ahead of their final game against Egypt.
Keys to victory:
Australia managed to stifle Argentina’s attack partly due to committing a number of fouls in their opposition’s half that stopped many potential counter-attacks.
This also led to many of Australia’s key players picking up yellow cards, with seven in total.
They must keep their discipline in check if they are to stand any chance of defeating Spain; having a player sent off for two bookable offences would put Australia’s chances in this game and beyond in jeopardy.
Spain’s profligacy in front of goal was clear to see in their opening game. Egypt’s game plan of putting many men behind the ball paid off, as Spain struggled to create clear cut opportunities.
Whilst the result is not the end of the world, Spain must rediscover their cutting edge in order to defeat an Australia side that is likely to adopt a similar defensive approach.
More dropped points could mean they face a do or die clash against Argentina in their final match.
Player to Watch
After playing a key role in Spain’s run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, Spain forward Mikel Oyarzabal was perhaps suffering from fatigue as he struggled to impose himself against Egypt.
However, the Real Sociedad star is undoubtedly one of Spain’s biggest threats, being able to play out wide as well as leading the line as a deep-lying forward.
He also has the ability to link up with fellow star men Dani Olmo and Pedri and wreak havoc on any defence.
If Oyarzabal can rediscover his spark, Australia’s defence could be in for a tough 90 minutes.
Australia vs Spain, Group C
Date: Sunday, July 25
Kick off: 8:30pm AEST
Venue: Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Japan