It was the re-match from the 1974 World Cup, despite a worse result it shows after 30+ years Australia’s learnt how to move the bus out of park, even if we then drove in circles for a couple of years.
Let’s not get overexcited about losing 3-1. The Chileans completed over 300 passes more than the Socceroos and had the majority of possession. The Chileans played an intense press with numerous occasions having seven or more players in Australia’s front third.
I’m yet to find a statistic on the amount of long balls played, but it wouldn’t be many, with Australia passing their way through the Chilean press to launch on the counter.
Playing two 34 year olds against a team known for their physical endurance was a bold strategy Ange, and it didn’t really pay off. The Chilean defence had an easy time when playing out of defence compared to the Socceroos and this could have been avoided if Cahill was paired with the more energetic Taggart or Troisi. That’s not to say Bresciano’s composure and technique on the ball didn’t help the Socceroos attack, compared to the game against South Africa the attacking forays were intellectually pieced together rather than hectically.
Australia did not shirk the challenge of the Chileans intensity, compared to our English cousins the Socceroos did not allow the Chileans time on the ball, nor sit back and absorb pressure.
The Chileans were favoured in the foul count, however the legitimacy of a lot of those would be contested. Mark Milligan picked up a yellow card for walking behind Sanchez too closely, which comically brought down the Barca winger.
Australia relied on crosses to test Claudio Bravo, with the Chileans continuously losing the aerial battles. Tim Cahill’s header from that beautiful cross crafted by Ivan Franjic was quintessentially Socceroos, and he was allowed further opportunities to bring Australia level.
The Netherlands thrashed the Spaniards 5-1, adding longevity to hackneyed & trite phrases everywhere. However if anything is possible and stranger things have happened, then the Socceroos must get three points against the Dutchmen if we are to qualify.
Spain will now face the side with the tactics that account for tika taka, just as the Chileans are warm. Australia needs Chile to beat Spain if we are to qualify.
The Socceroos played an entertaining game, with the passing and pressing of both sides culminating in a free flowing attacking game. The Socceroos know that can comfortably play their style and should meet a Dutch side that only need two points in two games to make the knock out stages.
Adam Taggart should feature in the next game as I don’t think Bresciano could back up starting two games in a row. Bresciano was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage just 20 minutes into the game and I think a 30 minute cameo will suit him better as he can go missing for long periods.
With the extent of Franjic’s injury yet to be announced Ryan McGowan will more than likely replace him in defence for the next game, Australian’s haven’t seen such a compact and proactive defence since 2006. The defence did get caught out by the Chilean press a few times, with the second goal caused by Sanchez being man marked by 5 players whilst Valdivia was left free to extend his sides lead.
Australia’s midfield arguably matched the Chileans, certainly outplaying them in the second half. With Mile (or Mike, according to our Prime Minister) jovially knocking the smile out of Vidal & Isla.
Australia will need to be brave against the Netherlands, as both teams unsettled their opponents. Australia aren’t a bad side and whilst our aesthetic quality doesn’t match our Group B opponents, today we proved that we can play good football and do it competitively.
Words by Patrick Hargreaves.