Thursday, 22 September 2011

Olyroos 0-0 UAE: HT Match Impressions

NOTE: This is not a full match report, and is based solely on the 1st half of the Olyroos goal-less qualifier against the United Arab Emirates. It is unlikely a full match report will follow.

The first half was a fairly even affair, between similiar teams. As stated in the preview, this match was unlikely to be a tactical affair. With the UAE set out in an identical formation, the two sides cancelled each other out, and the half became a series of battles between individual players.
Jason Hoffman
Vidmar set the Olyroos out in a 4-3-3 formation, exactly as prescribed in the FFA's national curriculum; even going so far as to sport the exact squad numbers prescribed for specific playing positions by the FFA, which gave the team a pleasant aesthetic for football traditionalists. The GK and back-four were numbered 1-5, midfield trio wore even numbers, attacking trio wore odd numbers. The Olyroos main game plan was to work the ball wide, and attempt to create overlaps. There was no notable attack launched from central midfield, with Nichols, nominally a central midfielder, operating almost as an auxiliary wide player.
Ferreira was given strict instructions to screen the back-four, to the point that he barely featured in passing, and was regularly bypassed in build-up play. Behich, as a converted left-winger, stationed himself further forward than Foschini at right fullback. Nichols, while sporting the number 10, did not operate as an orthodox playmaker; he drifted extremely wide and deep to the right flank, where he could have been mistaken for an attacking rightback, and looked to exchange passes with Brown. The selections of Jesic and Brown at left wing and right wing respectively, indicate Vidmar's intention for his wide players to cut-in and for his fullbacks to overlap; Jesic and Brown are predominantly regarded as central attackers by Newcastle and Gold Coast respectively. PM was able to correctly predict 8 of the starting XI, the exceptions being Jesic, Brown and Foschini.
Mitch Nichols
There was an unusual pattern to the game, where the ball circled the pitch in a counter-clockwise direction, reflecting the exchange of attacks between Australia and UAE. Australia's most potent flank was definitively our right, with Nichols and Brown linking wide. Conversely, the UAE's most potent flank was our left (their right), thanks to the trickery of winger Awana, the UAE No 10, and the attacking inclinations of Behich. With neither side able to definitively assert control in midfield due to parity in numbers, it was a case of constant back and forth. Consequently, the match followed an obvious pattern; the UAE midfield would feed Awana on our left flank (their right). Awana vs Behich became one of the crucial contests of the half. When Awana's attack was halted, the Olyroos would rapidly pass the ball to our right flank (their left), where Nichols and Brown would look to create attacking moves. When the UAE defence halted their incursion, the pattern would repeat, with the ball passed back to Awana. Australian and UAE attacks on our respective left flanks were practically non-existent. It was notable that Australia's first significant shot on goal in open play came from Jesic and Bozanic breaking this pattern, which had restricted the field of play, by attacking inside down the left.

The picture above indicates how congested at times Australia's right flank was. This is an extreme example, but you can see Jurman, Ryall, Foschini, Brown, Bozanic, Nichols and even Hoffman all on the extreme right side of the pitch.

PM will not comment on the match as a whole, as only the 1st half was observed with any detail. This is intended only to convey a general sense of how the Olyroos were set up.

Aziz Behich

No comments: