Monday, June 14, 2010


The Shock


Well, it's pretty hard to find any. But we'll try.

Luke Wilkshire did well with his crossing and delivery from set-pieces again, although, as always, he was far more effective in the middle and final thirds than in defence. Mark Schwarzer kept the score moderately respectable with some good usage of his massive frame, showing that he has improved his command of the area over the years. And at least Pim Verbeek did make an unexpected tactical change, even if an untried system is not really ideal for a World Cup opener against the group favourites.

To paraphrase Suetonius, so much for the Socceroo positives. Now for the Socceroo horrors.

The re-jigged midfield was, to put it bluntly, completely overrun. The strategy of keeping the defensive and midfield lines closely linked failed to prevent the subtle Mesut Ozil from finding space in between, and the idea of reinforcing the left with the presence of Jason Culina, to limit Philipp Lahm's jaunts upfield, was successful...for about five minutes.

It's easy to say that things might have been different had that early Tim Cahill header (and Richard Garcia's subsequent shot on the turn) found the net. Yes, the game might have taken on a different complexion. But it's hard to imagine the Germans not taking the initiative at some point.

And the defence has never, ever looked older. Scott Chipperfield pathetically diving in on Thomas Muller on the occasion of the third goal was a true head-in-hands moment, as was the nonexistent marking that allowed Miroslav Klose all the space in the world to pick a header for the Germans' second. The truth is that Chipperfield was overworked in the course of the game, being expected to contribute to attack (thanks to Australia's typical lack of width on the left without Harry Kewell) yet having to cope with a double thrust in defence from Lahm and Muller constantly.

The red card for Tim Cahill was somewhat harsh, but in fairness it must be noted that Carl Valeri was quite lucky not to receive a second yellow for a clumsy foul on Bastian Schweinsteiger soon after Cahill was dismissed. And the penalty claim? Per Mertesacker did handle, but plenty of referees would consider, as the Mexican official did, that it was ball-to-hand.

To use one of my favourite phrases, all is not lost. Not least because neither Serbia nor Ghana were particularly impressive in the other Group D game (see below), and because the Socceroos will be all the more keen to make up for what was, in anyone's language, an absolutely disastrous start to the event.

Kewell's fitness is quickly becoming a mystery that Dan Brown would have a field day with, but if fit, he should probably start on the left in the next game. If not, perhaps even the use of Chipperfield along with David Carney on the left side, Chipperfield probably moving into midfield, would be a better option than the system used against Germany.

Josh Kennedy must surely come into the line-up, and Verbeek may (stranger things have happened) finally decide to ditch the twin midfield screen in the interests of actually scoring goals, with Brett Holman or Nikita Rukavytsya joining Kennedy up front. Brett Emerton showed signs of the class that Australia have been lacking on the right recently, and although still very ring-rusty, he should definitely be in the starting 11 once more.

Briefly, the other games:

Slovenia v. Algeria

A match which barely got out of third gear, both sides not risking anything beyond a brisk canter. Although neither side really deserved to win, full marks to the Slovenes for pushing on and grabbing the points after Abdelkader Ghezzal had so foolishly gotten himself dismissed. As so often happens, it was the best player in green, Robert Koren, who scored the winner...aided by another forgettable piece of goalkeeping (rather unfortunate for Faouzi Chaouchi, who did fairly well otherwise).

Slovenia are tough and organised (as Shane Davis remarked, they are the most settled team in the tournament), and Algeria at least play with a little individual flair. But I don't think that either side has the power or intensity to match the two favourites in Group C.

Serbia v. Ghana

Another game which did not reflect particularly well on either side. Ghana looked the more fluent side on the whole, and Serbia's celebrated wingers made much less impact than expected. The blond Milos Krasic, in particular, found it hard to get hold of the ball, and was not particularly constructive in his use of it.

Once the Serbs had gone down to ten, however, Ghana lost the plot. They were not particularly shrewd in the final third at any point, but their attacks were very listless once they went 11 against 10. The Serbs, in fact, had three excellent chances at the other end before the second silly handball of the day gifted Ghana a rather hollow win.

Ghana's attackers appear gifted but a little callow: Prince Tagoe has plenty of pace, but seemed to lose his composure once he got near the 18-yard area. It might seem frivolous to say this, given Australia's collapse against the Germans and the loss of their key player, but both Serbia and Ghana are potentially beatable.

I feel so low and despondent.
Hahahahaha - "Kewell's fitness is quickly becoming a mystery that Dan Brown could have a field day with." Couldn't have said it better!! Very unlike Australia to be so comprehensively beaten - they're strong side and hard-working too.
I was worried going into the World cup that Verbeek had not improved the team since they qualified and appeared to have no plan to win.

if Kewell, Carle and Carney had called we had heaps of attacking class but Verbeek distrusts class.

The defensive side against Germany meant that if goals came we couldn't score.

As a ref I agree on both Cahill and Valeri but disagree on the penalty however that is picking at straws.

We were dreadful and showed no spirit. Kewell throwing his shin pads after the third substitution tells me he was fit and all is not good in the camp.

I told my boys going into the cup I thought we would lose all three games as we do not have the players to score goals and we used up all our luck in the qualifiers.
I am afraid I think I will be right.

as a Referee I agree on both Cahill and V
Mike, I think you will have another Planet Foster article come out.

Yesterday on The World Cup show, Craig Foster was a voice of reason. Saying that this isn't time for a post mortem and that the question about tactics etc should be made after the World Cup. It's time to support the boys.

Today, Foster went on a rampage advocating Pim to be sacked on the spot and advocated a player led coup to take over the team. I never thought I have ever seen Craig Foster out does his efforts against Ange postecoglu but this rant takes the cake. It was the most bile filled attack I have ever seen in a commentator in Australia
Whoa...wish I'd seen that. A Foz rant is always good entertainment value.
Ok Mike
Part ONe

Part two

By the way, there should have been a part three video that I couldn't find on youtube where he suggested that the players should just ignore the coach instruction and just coach by themselves. They used an example of the German team in Euro 2008 where apparently after the lost against Croatia, there was a players revolt against Joachim Löw and Ballack became the defacto coach of the team and suggested the socceroos should emulate that (I guess similar to Paraguay WC 2002).
Actually Mike, the whole things is on The World Game now. Have a look at Socceroos panel chat part one and part two.
please get over your preoccupation with Fossie.

Cannot SBS get a decent football commentator.

They had the best one and he is now at Foxtel. Put him on a short-term contract please because David Basheer cannot commentate
This comment has been removed by the author.
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