Sydney derby, shaky Victory, Brazil 2014
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- Melbourne Victory news
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- Socceroos 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying news
- Western Sydney Wanderers news
A wealth of optimism and excitement is hovering over the A-League. Crowds and television rating continue to soar, while the football is continuing to raise many talking points amongst fans and the media.
Off the domestic scene, the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying campaign apprehensively got back on track, with a timely 2-1 victory over Iraq on Wednesday morning.
As always, there are many issues to dissect and analyse, so let’s get straight into them:
Sydney Derby ready for grand opening
The inaugural meeting between new cross-town rivals Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC is set to take place at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night. With a sell-out crowd, anticipated to around the 20,000-mark, the occasion is set to be a memorable one.
The success of the newly formed Melbourne derby has given Sydneysiders a glimpse of what they could experience in their own backyard – a pulsating, electric atmosphere between the two supporter groups. Football is tailor-made for these derby encounters; in many ways, it’s no ordinary game.
The environment is like no other. For the first time since the inauguration of the A-League, the city’s bragging rights will be up for grabs in Sydney – a mouth-watering prospect for any enthusiast.
To add to the spectacle, marquee signings Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono will make their presence felt with the Sky Blues and Wanderers respectively. The Italian’s wonder-strike last week opened his scoring account in Australia, while Ono has looked lively since arriving on our shores.
While it’s only round three, a copious amount of pressure is already on Sydney, following its two-straight defeats to commence the season. A third successive loss, at the hands of its new rival, will not go down with its fans. Expect to see a fiery encounter, there’s plenty on the line – not just the systematic three points.
Brisbane Roar mortify Victory
It wasn’t a pleasant home-coming for erstwhile Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou last weekend. After guiding Brisbane to back-to-back championships, his return to Suncorp Stadium – an arena he had an abundance of success – was a nightmare. Victory was humbled by a whopping five-goal margin, the worst in its seven-year history.
The result was a shock to everyone; even the most one-eyed Brisbane supporters wouldn’t have envisaged such a lopsided scoreline. Brisbane was ostensibly a step above in every department; at times making Victory’s defensive backline looks rather calamitous.
Rookie goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas had a horrendous time between the posts. While the 20-year-old illustrated his shot-stopping prowess in the derby, he visibly failed to command his area with confidence, and notably struggled airily to claim the high ball on several occasions.
To be successful at this level, a keeper must be dominate in these areas. If Thomas is retained for Friday night’s game against Adelaide, he must erase the memories of Brisbane, and demonstrate confidence in his own abilities.
The return of key trio from international duty, Archie Thompson, Mark Milligan and Marco Rojas, will be a welcome addition at Etihad Stadium. Following his dramatic late-winner against Iraq, Thompson will need to show leadership and direction, in what has been an underwhelming start to his team’s campaign.
Evidently, Victory is in the process of adapting to Postecoglou’s innovative game-structure. Time will tell whether this crop of players can adapt to this system. It could take weeks, months or even a season to reap the rewards. Patience is required from the club and notably, its fervent brigade of fans.
Nevertheless, the battles between Victory and the Reds have always been passionate and lively. With John Kosmina back on the Adelaide scene, it’s set for another entertaining fixture.
Socceroos en route for Brazil 2014
A spark of Tim Cahill magic, accompanied with a precise Archie Thompson header, has rescued the Socceroos in the final moments of its AFC World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
The 2-1 victory saw Holger Osieck’s men move into second position in their group, level with Oman on five points after four games.
Three of the final four matches are on home soil – having already played the front-runner Japan in Sydney, sharing the spoils at 1-1. Australia is now expected to qualify for its third consecutive World Cup tournament.
Overall, when reviewing Australia’s win, the Socceroos dominated general play, without having a real firm grip on the contest. While encompassing the better of the play, creating chances within the attacking final third seemed to be a major problem.
This Iraqi outfit is noticeably a shadow of its former self – when it won the 2007 Asian Cup. While the Socceroos ultimately claimed victory, the performance in many ways, was much to be desired. Really, Australia should be sweeping aside opposition of this calibre, with little worry.
While it’s been well documented throughout the media, the ageing bodies within the Australian camp are a cause for concern. It’s great to see our nation qualify for the biggest football tournament on the planet; however Australian football has got to a point, where we are continually evolving and looking to catch up to the rest of the world.
The expectation is now, to qualify for every World Cup Finals and be a competitive force in the process.
Brazil is still 18 months away, however it’s difficult to fathom how this current squad could realistically make it past the group stage.
Regrettably, the next generation of Socceroos haven’t stepped up to the mark yet, if they did then they would genuinely be challenging for most positions on the pitch.
At this stage, the primary objective is to qualify for the World Cup. What happens afterwards is the million-dollar question.
Courtesy of Goal Weekly. Follow Robbie on Twitter @RobertDiFabio.
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