Socceroos defeated by Germany at the 2010 World Cup

Australia's Luke Wilkshire, left, and Australia's Lucas Neill leave the pitch after the World Cup group D soccer match between Germany and Australia at the stadium in Durban, South Africa, Sunday, June 13, 2010. Germany won 4-0. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Pim Verbeek gambled and failed. The Socceroos’ deficiencies, that we had discussed at length, were on full display against the brilliant Germans, together with Verbeek’s tactical naivety. We can still survive Group D, but if we don’t Verbeek will be the scapegoat.

When I saw the team sheet before yesterday’s clash with Germany, minus a recognised striker, I, like so many Socceroos fans, feared the worst.

What was he thinking? Why pick his World Cup debut against the might of Germany to finally gamble?

Having seen the starting XI, I tweeted at the time: “I’ll say this before the game: if we bomb spectacularly at this World Cup, at least Pim Verbeek will be the scapegoat.”

A day later, and on reflecting on the heavy loss, it was the relief of knowing Verbeek would soon vacate his role and Australia would view him as the scapegoat for the defeat that comforted me from the fear of how the country would perceive the World Cup thumping.

Spoilt for success in other sports, Australians aren’t used to losing big and still struggle to grasp their true place in the only truly global sport, so the hammering wasn’t good for the Socceroos brand. Pim, at least, could take the fall.

Verbeek choked on the biggest stage: playing without a known striker; starting with a 4-4-2, the antithesis of how he crafted the Socceroos over the past three years, with the odd pair of Tim Cahill (taken out of his crucial midfield role) and Richard Garcia; playing Jason Culina in the unfamiliar left wing, taking him out of his crucial holding role; and leaving Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy on the bench.

And we haven’t even mentioned his persistence in starting Craig Moore – made worse by Lucas Neill’s awful performance – and Vince Grella, along with the lack of a coherent defensive or counter-attacking strategy.

Yes, age has wearied the Socceroos’ golden generation, but it was Verbeek who persisted and protected that core group with his failure to challenge them by bringing along the second tier.

He must go back to his basics against Ghana this weekend, with the obvious impediment of the team’s attacking limitations in a must-win game coming to the fore yet again.

Cahill will be missing; Kewell’s fitness and form remains a mystery; and being overlooked in favour of Garcia and Nikita Rukavytsya will further shake Kennedy’s confidence.

But even with those concerns, they are still an infinitely better team than the performance against Germany showed.

The Ghana match is Verbeek’s chance for redemption by gambling in a more sound and intelligent way – by reshaping the team to its qualification structure and showing confidence and faith in the second tier group of players. The stage could be set for a Dario Vidosic, Brett Holman, Michael Beauchamp or the like to reignite the Socceroos’ campaign.

It’s all well and good relying on the so-called leadership skills and grit of our golden generation, but form must determine the XI for Ghana.

If only Verbeek had shown more faith in the second tier in the past.

At least Ghana’s victory over Serbia puts the Serbians under even pressure than the Socceroos. Serbia now faces Germany in a must-win match Friday, and judging by their respective performances, Serbia is up against it.

A victory to Germany over Serbia and Australia over Ghana brings the Socceroos back into contention – meaning they, like four years ago, would need a draw in the final group game, but this time around it would be against an Eastern European nation with nothing on the line.

Progression is possible, but only with significant changes and self-belief.

Craig Foster implored the nation to show their support for the Socceroos, stating the true support for the team will shine through in this moment of pain.

We believe in the Socceroos, but do we still believe in Verbeek?

Ghana’s his final chance.

Join Tony Tannous tonight from 9:15pm EST for his live analysis of the New Zealand All Whites’ opening match. Follow from your laptops, iPhones, etc, and comment during the game HERE.

Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino

Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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The Crowd Says (73)

  • June 15th 2010 @ 3:49am
    James W said | June 15th 2010 @ 3:49am | ! Report

    Why isn’t Verbeek being made accountable for his decision? He should explain it to the country.

    We need to be very careful who we hire next cause they need to play catch up on the development Pim didn’t do.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 5:56am
      Alders said | June 15th 2010 @ 5:56am | ! Report

      Why aren’t the players?

      • June 15th 2010 @ 7:08am
        James W said | June 15th 2010 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        Culina – out of position
        Cahill – out of position
        Garcia – out of position

        Kewell – not used
        Bresciano – not used
        Kennedy – not used

      • June 15th 2010 @ 9:13am
        Al said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Ultimately the coach is responsible for formulating the right formation and tactical approach to take into the match and picking the right players to play in the right positions to play the chosen formation, Verbeek failed on both counts.

        A football team can only play as well as the coach allows them to, if a coach plays players out of position and formulates a completely inadequate tactical strategy then ultimately the players aren’t at fault, the coach is. Australia were in for a thumping as soon as we saw the team sheet for this match and quite frankly this result isn’t unexpected for those that have followed the national team through qualification.

        Verbeek forumated what essentially was a 4-6-0 formation to play a pressing game that was never going to work considering the back four were incapable of playing a high defensive line due to their age and lack of speed. Time and time again the Germans found themselves with space in midfield, specifically Ozil who dominated from the midfield, find the ball in space and playing pass after pass to the German frontmen who easily exposed the already compromised defence.

        Three defensive midfielders and their playmaker time and time again got the ball unmarked, a slow back four incapable of playing to instruction due to their physical deficiences, no outlet to goal and hardly even a yelp at rectifying the problem as soon as it got out of hand. I’m sorry but this coach is entirely to blame, not the players, the coach is to blame. He has embarassed our players and our country.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2010 @ 9:43am
          Australian Football said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:43am | ! Report

          I have nothing further to add you have described my feelings and emotions perfectly. A very sad day when Ben Buckley announced Pim’s appointment. The eighth highest paid World Cup Manager and the least knowledgeable—I’m gutted. Because we could’ve had an Australian in charged for what we gained out of Pim in a WC campaign. (A NZ Ricky Herbert type or a USA Bradley type National Heros).

  • June 15th 2010 @ 4:21am
    Kurt said | June 15th 2010 @ 4:21am | ! Report

    I can’t make an informed judgement about Verbeek as a coach but in situations like this I think it’s always useful to engage in a little counter-factual thinking.

    Imagine that back in 2007 Alex Feguson decides he wants more sunshine than he’s getting in Manchester and offers to coach the socceroos for a pittance. So Alex spends the next 3 years shouting at the socceroos in that unintelligible Scottish dialect and the result against Germany is what – a 3-0 defeat rather than 4-0? Lets say he decided that youth was the way to go rather than relying on the established players, exactly where are all those incredibly promising young Australians now that he would have picked from? Wasn’t Harry Kewell scouted by Leeds from Sydney as a 14 year old or something – as such isn’t it also reasonable to assume that if there was a bunch of highly talented youngsters who could have taken it to the Germans if only they’d been given a chance, these youngsters would be currently ripping it up in the top leagues of Europe?

    In other words this wasn’t some abberation of history caused by a deficient coaching performance, this was a reasonably accurate reflection of the current playing stocks of the two countries. I’m not trying to death ride the socceroos here – I take no pleasure from an Australian sporting team getting pantsed on the international stage. Just trying to add a touch of reality.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 6:53am
      punter said | June 15th 2010 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Kurt, it was not much the result that was the problem, it was the performance.

      4 years ago, we played Brazil & lost 2-0, not being a pessimist, but before the game I would have taken that. But I walked away from the game thinking with abit of luck we could’ve got away with a draw, but clearly the Brazilians were a class above, but the performance was outstanding from the Aussies.

      This is the difference, most decent football fan knows on a player level, we are not anywhere near a Germany or a Brazil. Harry Kewell at his best would struggle to get into the Brazil 06 side or this current German side.

      But under a different coach Hiddink, we believed we could compete, the other night was just a debacle.

      • June 15th 2010 @ 8:36am
        Kurt said | June 15th 2010 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        I take your point. The thing that struck me about the Australian performance was the sheer level of grumpiness they displayed. And I’m not talking about the end of the game when all hope was lost, I’m talking about virtually from kick off. It seemed that every time there was a close up of an Aussie he was swearing or gesticulating at someone off camera (presumably the referee). The US commentators even made reference to it. I guess that’s what happens when things start to go wrong, but the whole team just seemed massively pissed off for the whole 90 minutes.

        • June 15th 2010 @ 9:27am
          st penguin said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Well there was a fair amount of swearing and gesticulating in the pub I was in as well!

          What is frustrating, is that we already knew our slow defence was a problem. On top of that, we also knew that Germany had speedy youngsters who were were going to test us.

          So what does Pims do? He selects a brand new formation which requires the team to pressure the mid-field. That meant the back four had to defend high up the pitch. It was tailor-made for Germany!

          I hate to say it, but we should have just parked the bus.

          • June 15th 2010 @ 9:42am
            dasilva said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:42am | ! Report

            Absolutely, it’s not like we didn’t had forewarning that the high defensive line would fail. We were cut to pieces by USA.

            Let just say this, part of the reason why Ozil had a blinder was because we played 442, we were outnumbered in the midfield 3-2 which left no one to mark him.

            I personally never had a major problem with the defensive nature of the AUstralian team or the 4-2-3-1 system. In fact I believed that system suited the strength of the australian team (it’s the only system that we can play that can fit kewell, bresciano, emerton, wilkshire and cahill in the same XI. As good as Scott McDonald was, he isn’t as important of a player to build the team around)

            My main problem was the execution of our defensive play (it was a myth that Australia were defensively organised, we were cut apart against Iraq and Bahrain) and the lackluster counter attack.

            I pretty much thought the 0-0 draw at home to Netherlands was a indicator of how we were going to play against seeded opposition. To see Pim just abandon the system that he was spruiking for the entire period he coached Australia at the biggest stage was just mind boggling.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 10:34am
      Midfielder said | June 15th 2010 @ 10:34am | ! Report


      Fair point … but the decisions Pim made were so different to any other team he had put out …

      Holeman who is front running mid is great in defense and guides play around the park .. that we had four defensive mids on the park at the same time, no forwards, and by my count at least three players playing in positions they hardly ever play…

      Of all games to take such risks … like this is the kinda of thing you do in a friendly to see if it could work…

      Kurt excuse my lack of AFL knowledge but the guy at the front that catches the ball … imagine grabbing someone from midfield in the grand final being put there…and players that play in the middle put on the wings…

      It was simply a brain snap

  • June 15th 2010 @ 5:19am
    counterruck said | June 15th 2010 @ 5:19am | ! Report

    the pressing approach was a big mistake with such an ageing defence, leaving acres of space for the germans to exploit Would 9 men behind the ball and kennedy as a lone striker) have made any difference? we will never know but i am not sure.
    this is a reality check for aussie football. expectations were too high.

    we outperformed 4 years ago with some luck and one of the best managers going around and then still all we did was make the second round. this time around we have an older, slower squad and a journeyman in charge. we produce great athletes but very few world class footballers. making it through to the seocnd round would be a massive achievement.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 5:58am
      Alders said | June 15th 2010 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      A good assessment here. Very rational and realistic. It is too easy to just put all the responsibility at the coaches feet when you lose 4-0.

      • June 15th 2010 @ 9:33am
        st penguin said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        I dont think our expectations were too high – I honestly think we have a team that could have forced a draw.

        I wonder what would have happend if Garcia scored with his shot in the opening minutes. Would Pims have switched to a more defensive strategy? We might have got a 1-nil or 1-1 result and we would now be talking now about how gallantly the Socceroos rose to the occasion!

  • June 15th 2010 @ 6:00am
    Alders said | June 15th 2010 @ 6:00am | ! Report

    Can someone please explain to me why the Socceroos place their hands over their hearts during the national anthem? It is far too an American practice for my liking.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 7:14am
      AA said | June 15th 2010 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Bigger things to assess Alders, let’s look at giving the team a shot at redeeming themselves.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2010 @ 9:43am
      AndyRoo said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      I actually a think it’s decent sign of respect and don’t see why it should be disregarded because it’s American.

      Their not all bad.

    • June 15th 2010 @ 10:48am
      Phutbol said | June 15th 2010 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Could be wrong here, but I believe it is a gesture (although not sure if its american in origin or not) of respect to fallen comrades in the millitary sense. the idea is that you are covering your service medals…

      As i said i heard that as the explanation some time ago but not sure if its the real reason or not.

      • June 15th 2010 @ 8:43pm
        Glen said | June 15th 2010 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

        You are correct… the gesture has nothing to do with the heart in Australia, it is about covering one’s medals and honours when passing the cenotaph on any memorial day. The idea is that those who have been killed in action deserve a far greater honour than any survivor who gets a chance to display his or her rewards and recognition thus they hide them.

        Hand on the heart during the national anthem… more American drivel!

        BTW… what’s with the blue socceroos uniform… I’ve never seen a national team in blue!!!!!

  • Roar Guru

    June 15th 2010 @ 8:00am
    Mister Football said | June 15th 2010 @ 8:00am | ! Report

    PIm played with no strikers because we have no strikers.

    Kennedy is not of the required standard, and Ruka still seems a bit green, and…. well….that’s it, there ain’t anyone else.

    There was a moment in the game where it as visible for all to see the gaping difference in intelligence between the two teams.

    Ruka had just received the ball to the left of the German box, Holman had found the perfect position in between the two central defenders, with the defender to his right sligthly forward and keeping him onside.

    The simplest of of passes across the box between the keeper and the defensive line would have seen Holman score a bread and butter goal.

    But what did Ruka do? He stopped, propped, went backwards, whatever, but he didn’t do what the Germans (each of them) would have done on 95% of occasions.

    Pim can show the video, but if you don’t have that intelligence and quick thinking, then it’s unlikely to sink in.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2010 @ 10:09am
      AndyRoo said | June 15th 2010 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      We are not as good as Germany, we gambled and lost on an experimentation and it all went pear shaped.
      What is clear is that people like Foz probably played a part in getting expectations to high. Talking about grit, determination and Aussie spirit being our strength. That’s coming from a football analyst so you can see why the casual fans were believing.

      The problem with using “Aussie Spirit” as a reason as to why we would win is it’s only a weapon if you thing the Germans don’t have “German Spirit”. I don’t profess to have seen all their games but I can’t recall the Germans being out enthused or ever giving up.

      The reality of the spirit Hiddink infused is it wasn’t mental it was a punishing fitness regime that worked for players who by and large didn’t have to worry about many mid week cup games and champions league ties and marketing opportunities (apart from Kewell). That gave us the legs to make up for our failings in other areas and meant we could get over the top of Japan at the end.
      I am pretty sure the guys were trying their guts out against Germany but they didn’t have the legs to make up for the Germans superior class.

  • June 15th 2010 @ 9:36am
    David V. said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:36am | ! Report

    The difference to 4 years ago?

    The euphoria of qualifying carried us all the way in Germany, fans and players alike, along with the self-belief and optimism Hiddink had instilled into the side. Verbeek has done none of that and has never been anything other than an average coach.

    Qualification from Asia is something we have a right to expect, as one of the continent’s better sides.

    Our real problem is that Australian fans have a too-rosy view of our players. Let’s face it, most of them have only been serviceable players at best in European football. John Aloisi was a typical example- he was never a star anywhere, yet gets star billing when he came home, possibly to his own detriment. Even though our “golden boy” Harry Kewell was a very good player at one stage, I’ve seen and known better in his position.

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2010 @ 9:50am
      AndyRoo said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      Even though our “golden boy” Harry Kewell was a very good player at one stage, I’ve seen and known better in his position.

      Are they Australian though and if so where are you hiding them? 🙂

      It would have been a brave man to start dumping our “Socceroo heroes from 06” but I doubt Pim cares about such sentiment….. the fact is no one is knocking the door down to be selected. Pim has given Spiranovic, Ruka, Vidosic, Lowy and Williams a run. I am sure he would have loved someone to emerge but I can’t think of any guaranteed stars coming through.

      Moore is past it but the sad thing is the other contenders couldn’t clearly show they were much better than Moore. I would say Sasa is in better recent form but he wouldn’t have made a difference agaisnt Germany and likely would have been sent off.

      So I am with you DavidV but I think their are some decent signs with players from the A league going to better clubs (and without trialing) than they did in the first season and by and large int he time of the NSL (their were some good transfers but not many over such a long time, they tended to go to tier two leagues).

      • June 15th 2010 @ 9:55am
        Al said | June 15th 2010 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        The non-selection of Spiraovic is baffling. Moore was past it four years ago.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2010 @ 12:37pm
          AndyRoo said | June 15th 2010 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

          People have been tried and involved and I think the one guy that really put his hand up to replace Moore was Paddy Kisnorbo who unfortunately did his knee.

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