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Australia vs Spain preview - Spain reign set to come to an end

Monday, June 23, 2014 by PA

Spain's nightmare World Cup will come to an end on Monday when they take on Australia in a dead rubber in Curitiba.

The defending champions cannot progress from Group B after being thrashed by Holland before losing to Chile.

The finish cannot come soon enough for a very frustrated Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

"It's true that these past few days have seem longer than usual because of our elimination," he said to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The veteran tactician broke with tradition on Sunday and had hard words for his players.

"The fact is that the coach thinks of all of them but the players only think of themselves," he said. "I told this to my players.

"I told them that when they become coaches they will realise just how difficult it is."

Del Bosque on Saturday had a training ground incident with new Chelsea signing Cesc Fabregas.

The coach removed Fabregas from the starting XI in the middle of practice and drew the ire of the player.

As journalists looked on, Fabregas got upset after his place was given to Xabi Alonso.

"I have spoken to Cesc," Del Bosque said. "We respect and appreciate each other.

"It was a minor problem in training but you cannot make a mountain out of a mole hill."

One of the players most criticised at this tournament has been Barcelona midfielder Xavi.

The 34-year-old is one of the players expected to retire from the national team and will not feature against Australia because of injury.

"Xavi is one of the players that ran the most against Holland," Del Bosque said. "People say I have to do a revolution, to renew the team.

"But if we put everything in a balance, our defeat is due to everyone, veterans and youngsters included.

"We have to thank Xavi for all that he has done for the national team."

The only prominent player that has escaped the wrath of the Spanish media has been Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta.

Spain's best player at the 2010 World Cup, who scored the winning goal in the final against Holland, Iniesta will make his 100th national team appearance against the Socceroos.

Australia were the lowest ranked team heading into the tournament and have shown frailties in defence yet they have earned plaudits for their attacking display, despite also suffering two defeats in Group B.

"They are very good technically," Del Bosque said. "They have fast players up front.

"It's true they have some injuries, but they are very well organised and they can be very proud of their performance at this World Cup."

A solid performance for Australia would boost spirits although they must do so without Tim Cahill, who is suspended.

"There's only one intent, as there has been in every game, and that's to try and win it," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said to the Sydney Morning Herald. "As I have said to the players, we have been to four World Cups and only won two games.

"It's not easy to win games at this level so if we have an opportunity to win one let's take it.

"It's an enormous challenge to try and beat the world champions who have lost two games in a row.

"How many times have Spain lost three games in a row - I'd say fairly rarely.

"It's an enormous challenge but we will put out a team to try and win the game."

With Cahill unavailable, Ben Halloran is expected to partner Mathew Leckie in attack.

Del Bosque will make wholesale changes to the side that fell to Chile, including benching Spain captain Iker Casillas and instead playing with Liverpool's Pepe Reina in goal.

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