Monday, August 18, 2008

Olyroos vs Ivory Coast + Olympics Wrap Up

Australia started with a lot more enterprise than previous games and this was by far our most entertaining to watch.  We really looked to take it to the Ivory Coast but once again just didn't have that edge in the final third.  The Rukavytsya risk didn't pay off.  He is just way too inexperienced and raw.

Ivory Coast sat deep in defense probably giving us more respect than we deserved.  A draw was good enough to see them go through so I suppose it may have been warranted to take less risks in committing players forward.  This could however been our advantage if we had anyone that could take a chance.

Australia have had the same problem not only in this match but throughout the tournament and it just highlights the class difference in the players on show.  That is our first touch.  Every time the ball comes to us in even open space our players have heavy touches which puts them immediately under pressure.  Argentina especially impressed me in tight, nonexistent spaces in and around the box they were still able to touch the ball with close control to exactly where they wanted it.  Both our anticipation and actual technical ability to do this were very evidently lacking.

Good things to come out of the tournament were definitely Spiranovic, Carney and Federici.  Honorable mentions have to also go to Musialik who I cannot wait to see pull on the sky blue shirt for Sydney and Celeski who was often our spark in attack.  I feel for Milligan who playing in his less preferred midfield role was quite poor.  This was meant to be where he was noticed and picked up by a big club.

Arnold wanted to be judged on results and the way the players he picked played.  We can now say that the criticism of his squad selections and coaching ability were justified.  Seeing Hyphen come on as a late substitute after we went 1-0 down was his final clutch for straws.  They however slipped through his hands along with hopefully his time surrounding our national team.

But our players all handled the heat right?...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olyroos vs Argentina - Group Match 2

First up I want to congratulate the Aussies on how they played this match.  In what most of us thought would be a 5-0 whitewash was limited to a very narrow loss but could have easily come away with a point or more if things had have fallen our way.








Australia went to the 4-2-3-1 formation we expected at the start of the tournament with obvious tactics of sitting deep and trying to play out fast from broken play and hit the Argies on the counter.  Against this amazingly talented Argentina side we did the absolute best we could and really frustrated them all match, culminating in the Argentineans losing some of their composure and snapping at shots whenever they had the slightest chance.

Federici again was solid after a 'Paul Robinson special' at the start of the match.  The shaky fullbacks from the last outing against Serbia were rightly sat out, causing both Zad and Carney to drop back into these wide defensive positions.  Both had games that justified their selection with both along with the same centre half combination as previously, containing the fast and skilled Argentinean superstars.  The difference in first touch and close control of the ball in tight spaces was very evident but to our credit, noone was jumping in and getting shown up.

In midfield, Milligan and Musialik again were both acting as screening midfielders but the difference this time was that they now had an attacking trio in front of them providing that all important link to our pacey striker in Thompson.  We didn't get a lot of opportunities in attack but when we broke I thought we broke well and if our first touch was better then we could have easily nabbed a goal here and there.  You could however argue that the players who's touch I am reffering to, Zadkovich and Rukavytsya, should never have been in the team in the first place partially for this reason.

When we were going forward in attack Celeski again gave us some flare and always wanted to take players on.  I think he has been one that has justified his selection that I bagged when the squad was first announced.  Kilkenny played as almost a support striker at some stages and as a player I haven't seen much of impressed me with his 'terrier' style, quick and always just seeming to pop up all over the pitch.  Troisi wasn't as involved as the other two and after we went a goal down was rightfully taken off for McClenahan to allow Carney to push forward.

Thompson played the lone striker roll in this formation quite well and was always trailing away from his defenders into space that our midfielders were playing into.  Again the different was that there was a link between the shielding midfielders and himself which allowed him to get involved in the game.  I would have liked to see him stay on rather than a sub for Ruka.  Just not a fan of the kid at all and I wonder how Thompson would have taken Rukas chances at the death.







When Argentina finally got their goal I loved the way that they just played keep ball, knocking it around.  The commentator and crowd maybe didn't like it but I thought it was both smart, beautiful and just funny.  I thought it was strange that we had no intention of changing our tactics of sitting deep and refusing to press even while this was going on.  I thought that it could have actually played into our hands by Argentina being dispossessed and Australia gaining possession up field in broken play where we had looked our most dangerous.

So now we just need to beat the Ivory Coast to progress.  The next match should be a good one to watch as we will have to come out playing football and look to take it to the Ivory Coast.  COME ON AUSSIE!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olyroos vs Serbia - Group Match 1







Started nothing like I expected.  Even worse than expected actually.  Talk about negative tactics and selections that were hard to watch.

Federici looked ten times the keeper Velaphi or Pasfield looked in the leadup matches and definitely justified his selection.  His positioning was flawless Thursday night culminating in an excellent save from a free kick.

Spiranovic was definitely the other shining light to come out of the match, to me once again putting himself well ahead of North in the race to be included as the Socceroos central defensive partner to Neil.

Both fullbacks were constantly exposed by quicker Serbian wingers.  Carney was however our only real attacking flare since Zadkovich is a poor excuse for a human let alone a footballer and our two strikers were totally isolated thanks to a lack of a midfield link due to Arnold's tactics and team selection.  Since they didn't actually










Arnold changed up to this with Celeski and Bridge providing that missing creative link in midfield and hey presto we score and look a lot more threatening.  This is the formation we used a lot more in our successful qualifiers but it still frustrates me that it is Celeski in that position and in my opinion not the much better Ward, Burns or Holland.

1-1 is an ok result in the scheme of things.  Could have been worse, could have been better, depends how you want to look at it.  The verdict is still out...