Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Saudi Arabia 1 - 3 Australia: HT Impressions

Pass and Move's match analysis was disrupted at half time due to an urgent need to sleep. However, here are some points PM gleamed from the first half, most of which were noted in our twitter coverage of the match. Full Match Report to Follow.

1) Personnel - Holger made some notable changes in his line up.
Jedinak was preferred to Kilkenny, probably to add a more robust presence to midfield. Jedinak's more committed tackling was a feature; he was lucky not to get booked.
Ognenovski was preferred to Spiranovic. Ogenenovski is more of a rugged/physical presence, but perhaps a shade slower and less sure on the ball/and on the flank than Spiranovic. He stayed central instead of covering the flank.
Holman was shifted from his unbalancing left-flank role to a roaming position nominally behind the striker. Cahill was pushed to the bench. The benefits are obvious; Holman offers much more mobility than the Everton man.
In mid-field, Holger used a relatively defensive pivot of Valeri and Jedinak, with Valeri looking to come deep and receive the ball from the CBs and Jedinak looking to impose himself physically higher up the pitch, to disrupt play.
McKay was shifted from LB, where he was defensively exposed, to LM, where he was freer to drift centrally and initiate passing exchanges. In his place, Zullo was started at LB, to provide the width McKay does not, and a surprisingly effective defensive presence.
PM is reaonable pleased that we were able to predict most of the personnel changes, but is somewhat disappointed Williams or Kruse were not started. However, we recognise Holger intended to ensure a good performance and a win, and did not wish to take a risk on blooding players.

2) System. Most importantly of all, Holger shifted back to his preferred 4-4-2/4-3-3 hybrid. On the evidence of last night, Holger prioritises the mobility of Holman, the partnership of Emerton and Wilkshire and the creative passing of McKay over the aerial threat of Cahill. In this way, Holger rectified the mistakes caused by his experimenting in the game against Thailand. However, PM believes Holger shoould be applauded for his willingness to experiment, not just on new players, but on new systems.
Kennedy played completely different, perhaps also due to the fact that Saudi were regarded as a more serious attacking threat than the Thais. He dropped deep, even to defensive half, and looked to make runs in behind instead of waiting for service. Wilkshire too, was much more effective, due to Emerton's more frequent cutting in, and relying less on high loopy crosses, notwithstanding that such a cross gained Australia's its first goal.

3) Environment. It was apparently sweltering on the ground, and there was noticeably less sprinting by Australia.

4) Saudi Arabia - Looked to set up a 4-2-3-1 that morphed into a 4-1-4-1 when attacking. Clearly looked to penetrate the flanks but found no joy. Emerton is comfortable at RB, and McKay can defend ably, with Zullo tracking back energetically. So Australia were never a man light.

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