Australia v Germany
Russell Degnan

Predictably, the immediate coverage of Australia's hammering by Germany has been an over-reaction to a shoddy loss. And, admittedly, it couldn't really have gone much worse. The worst bit was that we were lazy and disorganised in defence, and, needless to say, Germany have a knack for cracking weak defences. The second worst bit was losing Cahill to a rash but not red-card offence. The third worst bit was shipping four goals, which ends any hope of sneaking through on goal difference. The loss itself wasn't that important, we always expected to lose, but must continue to hope that Germany keep on winning, to even out the competition for second-place.

It is the defence Australia has to worry about. The midfield was nowhere to be seen, leaving the Germans free to time simple balls in behind the defence for the cut-back. The first and fourth goals were classic examples of this problem, with noone picking up the run, nor more crucially marking the players joining from midfield. Frankly, given how frequently the Germans got free inside our penalty area, we were lucky not to let in more.

Tactically, Australia is ill-suited to play on the counter-attack, being both likely to concede goals regardless of the formation and unable, for lack of technical proficiency, creativity and pace to score on either the break or via the leading forward. Nevertheless, after five minutes it still appeared to be a sensible option, as Australia started well. You cannot win on the counter if you concede easily, and unfortunately, I have yet to see an Australian side that doesn't do that. Klose's goal being yet another demonstration of Schwarzer's frustrating inability to command the box and let in unnecessary goals, even if he saves several others.

That all said, Verbeek can be expected to turn out a different lineup for the next two games, against sides Australia are not only capable of defeating, but now have to defeat, which should force his hand. The evidence against Germany suggests Australia remain a team whose best, if not only, chance of scoring comes from the wings, and that means getting players forward.

Idle Summers 14th June, 2010 14:33:09   [#] 

Comments

Australia v Germany
I thought the Cahill red card was pants, too, but then was told by someone watching the match (I only saw the news runs after) that it may have been in part because he already had a yellow card for being a tool. Which is not to say I like the decision much more, but it does illustrate the way some of the story can be left out by passionate Australian commentators...
armagny  15th June, 2010 15:18:46  

Shortage of youn quality
Russ,

Isn't the real problem that this game illustrated Australia's long-term malaise - that our best players have their best soccer behind them, and the younger players aren't anywhere near as good?
Robert Merkel  15th June, 2010 16:37:30  

Australia v Germany
Armagny, Cahill hadn't been booked, and in any case, it was a straight red. He (and Neill who was also booked for a fairly tame challenge) may be answering for their hatchet jobs against New Zealand a few weeks ago. But again, lack of preparation or lack of discipline is at play. We should have known that the ref had a reputation for being card happy, and cut out the dissent that got us two bookings. (And Germany the dives, which got them two).

Rob, maybe, maybe not. There is a squad of players who took Brazil to penalties in the U/17 WC 11 years ago. Where are they? (actually, McDonald was in that team, and he is at home) In any case, lack of skill is more of a problem in attack, where we actually had a few chances. It isn't an excuse for a lack of organisation or laziness in defence, which is why we conceded four goals.
Russ  15th June, 2010 18:25:28  

Australia v Germany
Russ, I don't know football anywhere near as well as cricket, but I suspect that looking at junior results is about as useful in both sports (which is to say, not very). Even assuming that the best players at junior level will become the best players of those birth years at senior level (which isn't true), you're still only looking at a very small slice of birth years.

If a world cup was played in which all players had to be 24 or 25 years old, the traditional powerhouses would probably do better than the traditional also-rans, but the ranking order would get shuffled around a lot, depending on what talent was born in those particular years.

I generally agree with Rob (though I'm pretty ignorant in this sport). There were a few people saying in 2006 that that was our best chance to do well because everyone was only going to get older, and no-one new was coming through.
David Barry  16th June, 2010 10:48:36  

Australia v Germany
David, as far as predicting future performance, junior results are fairly meaningless, sure. But the best players at U17/U20 level tend to carry that forward - hunt through Spain's U17 sides and all the big names are there. So, if a side does well at U17 level, it is reasonable to assume that the best players from that side will be in the national team in dozen years time, when they are at their peak. But Australia's successful U17 players have been passed over in favour of ageing crocks, who, at their peak, were superior players, but have been shown up very badly by Germany.

Even if we accept that Australia are not as good as they were, they aren't that much worse than four years ago. Or to put it in cricket terms, even if we accept that the Australian team is not as brilliant as four years ago, you still expect the bowlers to bowl tight lines, the fieldsmen to take their catches, and the batsmen to use their heads.
Russ  16th June, 2010 14:10:34