Why the Socceroos can beat Germany

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    After all the bombast and rhetoric, it’s high time the Socceroos turned in a decent performance – and they’ll hardly get a better chance than against a third-string German outfit.

    Lost amid what little analysis there has been of Australia’s impending Confederations Cup campaign is the fact that Germany have essentially sent their C-team to Russia.

    Forget ‘world champions’, the Germans have sent a development squad to the tournament, explaining that they’re more interested in defending their World Cup title next year instead.

    There were no less than seven debutants on display in the farewell fixtures against Denmark and San Marino – which ended in a 1-1 friendly draw and 7-0 World Cup qualifying win respectively – and only Shkodran Mustafi, Matthias Ginter and Julian Draxler remain from the squad that won the World Cup in Brazil.

    Not even the goalkeeping position is nailed down, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp vying with Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno for a place between the posts normally occupied by Manuel Neuer. Up front, the Germans have selected only two strikers in the untested Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner.

    That’s not to imply that the Germans are easybeats – when have they ever been? – but rather that those who claim the Socceroos will be flogged by “one of the world’s best teams” have already missed the mark.

    And although the Germans have proclaimed that they expect to win the game, it’s hardly a fait accompli as the two sides get set to run out under rain-swept skies in Sochi.

    The question, of course, is whether the Socceroos can finally get their 3-2-4-1 formation to click.

    Australia coach Ange Postecoglou is nothing if not stubborn, and there seems little doubt he’ll be digging his heels in and playing three at the back irrespective of the opposition.

    While that might seem a dangerous game to play against a youthful German outfit, the flipside is that if the Socceroos can eradicate some of the individual errors that have plagued the past couple of performances, they should actually manage to take the game to the Germans.

    This is a side, let’s not forget, that drew 2-2 with Germany when the two teams last met in Kaiserslautern in March 2015, with Die Mannschaft needing a late Lukas Podolski equaliser to snatch a draw.

    Postecoglou’s teams have also proved capable of stepping up when it matters, most notably by winning the Asian Cup on home soil, but also at the World Cup a year earlier – even if results in Brazil didn’t necessarily go Australia’s way.

    (Photo: AFC Asian Cup)

    There’s reason, then, for optimism going into Australia’s fourth Confederations Cup campaign, the last of which came in 2005 in Germany when the Socceroos were reigning Oceania champions.

    They could make history of a different kind in Russia, with rumours swirling that FIFA is set to call time on the tournament and make this the final edition of the Confederations Cup as we know it.

    Certainly the empty seats in Saint Petersburg for host nation Russia’s comfortable 2-0 win over New Zealand suggest the locals aren’t especially enamoured with the tournament, although the stands in Moscow will invariably be packed for the visit of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

    For the Socceroos, though, it’s a rare chance to test themselves in tournament football – not to mention familiarise themselves with some of the venues they’ll be hoping to play in at next year’s World Cup.

    It’s hard then to understand some of the online sentiment from Aussie fans questioning whether the tournament is even worth following.

    Whatever the naysayers think, there’ll be plenty of weary eyes tuned to SBS come 1am on Tuesday morning to watch the Socceroos strut their stuff on the world stage.

    They should play the Australian way and take the game to Germany – just as long as they first sort out that leaky defence.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.