Sunday, 4 September 2011

Australia 2-1 Thailand: Final Say

This is basically a summary of the rather long 4-part Match Report, and will look to answer a few basic questions.

Why were Australia poor?
1. Unbalanced formation - Holman, nominally on the left flank, drifted centrally and ignored the left. McKay, nominally playing at LB, was defensively exposed as he tried to drift into mid-field and create - therefore the left flank was completely abandoned and this was the flank Thailand exploited for their goal. This unbalanced formation was obviously an attempt by Osieck to fit McKay, Holman, and the fluid partnership of Emerton and Wilkshire into a the same team combined with Cahill's goal threat.

2. Lack of mobility - Cahill and Kennedy were extremely static. Neither looked to pull wide or drift deep in order to drag defenders out of position and create space for Holman and Emerton to exploit. (For comparison, look at Peter Crouch's performances for Tottenham - he will often drop near the half-way line to offer passing options to Modric and allow Van der Vaart, Bale and Lennon to exploit the space he has vacated. By contrast, Kennedy just stayed by his marker, coming short just twice). Look at the difference between the goal Kennedy scored against Thailand and the goal McDonald created against Wales. Kennedy scored by staying the box and waiting for service - it was a fortunate rebound from a McKay shot. McDonald was playing in a fluid inter-changing attack - McKay laid off to Cahill, ran into the box, Cahill laid off to McDonald then ran for the box, McDonald laid the ball across goal, Kruse scored. Movement, movement, movement is key.

3. Crosses from deep - because of the lack of mobility, once Holman, Emerton, Cahill and Kennedy had congregated in the box, Wilkshire often had no other options but to launch a high cross, hoping for a knock down.

4. Emerton, Kilkenny and Valeri did not have particularly good games. Kilkenny and Valeri were partly responsible for the conceded goal.

Why were Thailand defensively effective (despite losing)?
1. Conservative formation - Thailand held a deep defensive line in a 4-5-1, looking to score on the counter-attack

2. Defended smartly - Schaffer recognised Thailand would be unable to compete directly against Cahill and Kennedy in the air. The two attackers were marked tightly without over-committing Thai players, but the first ball from the cross was conceded. Thailand quickly surrounded the knock-down with players.

3. One-dimensional attack - Australia was only playing on 2/3 of the pitch, and only attacking from 1/3; the right flank. It was notable that our 2 goals came from the left, when every other attacking foray came down the right.

How did Australia come away with a win?
1. McKay - Althought he was exposed defensively at LB, McKay put in a brilliant attacking performance to single handedly win this match. McKay is not a left back or a left winger - he is a left-sided central mid-fielder. Excellent passing ability, excellent stamina, excellent vision - a decent tackle, no pace, not able to operate on the touchline. McKay created both goals in the final 1/3. His one-two with Kilkenny; where McKay made a brilliant run through the Thai defense, and Kilkenny played a beautiful pass splitting the Thai backline, left him with only the keeper to beat. The rebound fell to Kennedy, who scored. In a match where 99% of his touched came from his head, Kennedy scored with the one that fell to his feet. McKay's cross created the 2nd goal, Kennedy knocked down for Brosque to finish. This was a rare counter-attack, launched from mid-field from Australia - there were only 2 Thai defenders in the box.

2. Substitutions - Although Holger made several selction errors, his substitutions, while not rectifying the McKay at LB error, were aggressive and promoted fluidity and mobility. Kruse and Brosque are versatile attacking players, able to operate as mobile strikers, wingers and attacking mid-fielders. It was noticeable that in the last 5 mins, Australia's attack was more mobile, with the aforementioned pair and Holman interchanging positions and making runs.


fj said...

Agree completely with the tactical assessment. But I wonder whether team selection isn't influenced by a marketing need to get certain players on the field? Holger can get away with dropping a "star player" (Cahill, Emerton) to the bench for a match in Asia but not as easily for a home match in front of the paying public. Just sayin'.

PassandMove said...

Fair point. I don't know how much influence the FFA have over Holger's managerial authority, but my personal feeling is that he exercises complete power over Socceroos decisions in terms of selection and coaching. If I recall correctly, Osieck was sacked by Urawa because he refused to agree with the board's decisions over players. That's hearsay so don't quote me. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

What Up USA?

PassandMove said...

thanks for the shout out yank