Roos’ Confed Cup dress rehearsal ends in 4-0 defeat

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

By Evan Morgan Grahame, Evan Morgan Grahame is a Roar Expert

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    Brazil took to the MCG turf for the second time in a week, against Australia this time, having lost to Argentina in a friendly last Friday.

    Ange Postecoglou made a number of changes in personnel, but the back-three formation remained.

    We saw, here, what this formation looks like against a team that dominates possession. Australia tend to take the lead in that regard against Asian opponents, but Brazil had no intention of giving up their beloved plaything to the Roos.

    We saw what having energetic, advanced wing-backs can offer when defending from the front. Matt Leckie and Aziz Behich offered up some nice moments of swiftly applied, advanced pressure multiple times, forcing Brazil to play back to their keeper, stifling at the source – for a short time, at least – progress down the flanks.

    The problem is that for all of Leckie and Behich’s enthusiasm, Brazil were clearly good enough not to be flummoxed by this pressure for long, and to play around it with patience and precision. When they did squeeze their way through, the wing-backs were suddenly far too advanced to help the affect the situation defensively as it progressed toward the Socceroos’ goal.

    Additionally, when the Brazilian full backs ventured forward, too often it was the centre backs who had to separate, coming out to meet them; Milos Degenek, a good defender to be sure, is still no match for Juve’s Alex Sandro.

    Behich and Leckie were playing effectively as wingers, and their positioning broadcast as much. Simon Hill, calling the match, described Behich as playing as a “high wing-back”, a position that doesn’t actually exist outside of just being a winger that’s somewhat defensively-minded. In the first half, the spot that radiated most intensely in the Brazilian’s team-wide heatmap was the spot just ahead of the halfway line, on Behich’s flank.

    Behich’s average first half position was ahead of the halfway line, in Brazil’s defensive half. By the end of the match, Behich’s average position had retreated only slightly.

    Matthew Leckie

    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    There were still moments of considerable defensive peril; most of them involved Brazil attacking down one flank, with yawning weak side-space calling out to be exploited on the other. Brazil would raid down Behich’s wing, and Leckie would be seen jogging some distance behind his man, with Degenek unsure whether to cover across or not.

    Other moments – like Brazil’s first goal, after 12 seconds – saw our centre backs passing inaccurately out of defence, often straight to the opposition. Only Trent Sainsbury, really, has the ball-playing skills to pass ambitiously, and as he’s the central centre back. His ability to pass out to the wings is somewhat restricted.

    David Luiz – perhaps the ideal centre back in the system Postecoglou is trying to propagate – functions almost exactly like Sainsbury is supposed to in Chelsea’s back-three formation. It must have made Ange green with envy. Luiz was playing as a defensive midfielder, creating and snuffing out attacks with equal relish; he is superbly versatile and gifted.

    Luiz met a corner with a ferocious header in the second half, hitting the bar, and the chaos that ensued led to Brazil’s second goal.

    There were a couple of promising moments for Australia, with Behich, taking advantage of his advanced starting spot, linking up well with both Mark Milligan – an excellent passer, crucial to both our defence and attack – and James Troisi. Troisi’s bustling, sudden turn-and-burn tendencies in possession startled the Selecao at times.

    Troisi appears to shift straight into top gear from a standing start, and heavy touches and overrun lurches are a part of his game that will be difficult to shake if he can’t refine himself. But the injection of pure, aggressive directness he provides is an asset that, more often than not, helps rather than hinders the attack.

    Behich crossed well – at least better than Brad Smith has in his appearances for the national team – and really ought to retain his spot throughout the Confederations Cup, especially considering Smith’s injury.

    Almost all of Australia’s best attacking sequences involved dashing down the wings. Robbie Kruse was rarely seen taking the ball, under pressure or not, in the middle of the park, and Troisi’s accelerations usually began from deeper areas, with no space allowed in the areas traditionally the domain of a No.10. Luiz was making that area utterly uninhabitable.

    All attempts in the second half to try and pass through the middle, into the Brazilian box, ended with some blue-shirted player striding out of defence with the ball. Ajdan Hrustic, on debut, managed the first Australian shot on target, with 20 minutes to go, a skidder from distance.

    Saudi Arabia's defender Mukhtar Fallatah (R) vies with Australia's defender Trent Sainsbury


    Brazil played within themselves, comfortably thrumming along in a lower gear, surely aware of what happened the Socceroos manager the last time they got the cane out of the cupboard in a friendly against Australia. Philippe Coutinho and Luiz, two of the Premier League’s best, were substituted for Willian and Fernandinho, two more of Premier League’s best.

    Brazil scored a third, a wondrous team-goal that saw almost the entire midfield and attack combine in impossibly close quarters, with Paulinho’s back-heel setting up substitute Taison to slot home. A fourth goal was headed home too by Diego Souza, literally the last touch of the game.

    Postecoglu was clearly testing out players before the tournament in Russia, but as Australia was only making any headway down the flanks, Jamie Maclaren was hardly going to soar in to nod home a Tim Cahill-esque stunner. He’d replaced Cahill, and is – to put it mildly – not the same aerial presence.

    Moreover, if this was a time for experimentation, why not change the formation too, to see if anything else worked? When Leckie went off, Kruse slotted in to fill the gap at wing-back, a move almost reinforcing the stone in which this formation seems to be set.

    This was a Brazil team shorn of many of its best players, playing at an intensity level similar to that of a particularly vigorous training match. Australia, too, embraced the casual spirit of the match, a friendly affair after all.

    Ruminations over the validity of the Roos’ general tactical approach will continue, with this match offering little of substance to either side of the argument. But the quality that Brazil threatened, a deadly bite only hinted at with a snarling flash of the teeth, will be lethally inflicted by our Confederations Cup opponents Chile, Germany and Cameroon.

    Whether we, in our current system, will survive it is still unclear.

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.

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    The Crowd Says (142)

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:06am
      TK said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Two things I immediately observed. The first how easily, frequently and effectively Brazil used the basic 1-2 to cut through our defences and leave them standing still. The second how they were clearly and easily out jumping us to win balls in the air.. feet on springs. The 1-2 and the forward player movement associated with it is something we could learn from the match.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2017 @ 5:35pm
        Kaks said | June 14th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

        The 1-2 passing looks so simple, however to execute in such tight area’s so well is a testament to how good Brazil were on the night. Contrast that with our passing and how often we missed the target standing 3 metres away…

        The 3-5-2 formation can be an overwhelming force to stop when you retain possession and are able to move the ball around the park. Our player’s are not able to do that due to a lack of basic skills. This is leaving us exposed with our formation as was evident last night. It hurt to watch.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:11am
      Fadida said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Ange whinges about the lack of interest in the match, blaming the media. He then sends out a second string side, playing Kruse (again), without the side’s most in form players, Mooy, Rogic and Juric. They get thrashed in his shoehorned and totally unsuited 3 at the back mess.

      If he and the players want to publicly moan about attitudes toward, and interest in the National team at the moment then they need to better than this. It’s not the media creating negative stories, it is those within the team writing their own

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:47am
        Vin said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        2nd string? They had Cahill , luongo, kruse

        Brazil were 2nd string, made 7 changes to the team that played Argentina and still missing Neymar and Firminho

        • June 14th 2017 @ 9:09am
          Fadida said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          Cahill, Luongo, Langerak, Kruse, aren’t starters. That makes them “second string” players.

          • June 14th 2017 @ 9:12am
            punter said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

            It’s hard for some when the obvious is so ….. obvious.

            • June 14th 2017 @ 2:01pm
              vin said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

              its not obvious at all, they all could be first choice.
              i wouldnt be calling Rogic, Mooy or Juric superstars, look at the leagues they are playing in

          • June 14th 2017 @ 11:35am
            BrainsTrust said | June 14th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            Luongo should be starting with Milligan, Jedinak should be second string. After that they need to find someone else definetly not Mooy whose slowness and lack of willingness to get back cost 2 goals against Saudi Arabia,
            Kruse should be the first choice he looks the best attacking option behind the striker they need to find another backup for Leckie at wing back.Then you have Troisi and Rogic for the other spot. Mooy would be second string behind them at the moment.

            • June 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm
              Nemesis said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

              Mooy & Rogic are the only 2 players I’d have permanently etched on the Starting XI Team Sheet.

              • June 14th 2017 @ 1:36pm
                BrainsTrust said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                Then change the squad and the formation to work around playing both of them.
                You would need to find a Kante like player to fix the problem with Mooy in the formation.

              • Roar Guru

                June 14th 2017 @ 5:36pm
                Kaks said | June 14th 2017 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

                Closest player we have to ‘Kante’ is Milligan, and I would much rather him in our midfield than the immobile, unable to pass the ball, Jedinak.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Caltex, TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Lol… So Fad, you would have Ange, use the best XI playing week in and week out…? This not FIFA play station football here comrade. Human football players, do need a rest, otherwise they burn out.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 10:17am
          Fadida said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          My comment was really in response to Ange’s whinge this week about the lack of interest in the game, with the media named the culprit. In response he sends out a team without it’s biggest “stars” (relative I know) absent, including the 2 most creative players. Will we be surprised when fewer people are interested in the next home game?

          I would have also thought that in the lead up to the Confed Cup he’d have at least started his likely lineup. The system needs a huge amount of work. If only we had a friendly to trial it.


      • June 14th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Cool N Cold said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Kruse needs match fitness. So, he plays.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 11:11am
          Fadida said | June 14th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Kruse needs to get match fitness. By finding a club and playing games. Then he should be considered for the NT

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:12am
      j binnie said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Evan – A pretty fair and detailed analysis of this latest Socceroo team highlighting improvements and failures to the system they are trying to change to.
      Unfortunately last night’s opponents were by far and away a much superior team to ours and so the “improvements” had to be measured in statistics and in this area a rather bleak picture evolves.
      The Brazilian goalkeeper was never at any time put under any pressure,
      The possession figures tell us of a team supremely confident in finding a team-mate with fast accurate passing,and overall one began to wonder if they were playing what could best be described as a “training” game. When they did appear to “put the pedal to the floor” we witnessed the Socceroo goalkeeper perform wonders to keep the score reasonable.
      This game was far more educational to our hopes and aims for it showed up what can be achieved by players ,who after all are only human beings like our boys.
      Luiz and Coutinho were examples that should be shown to every youngster playing the game in OZ, Ruiz was magnificent in midfield and the diminuative Coutinho showed that you don’t have to be a physical specimen to be a great footballer
      Despite the score there is much to be learned from last night if we are willing to watch and learn. Cheers jb..

      • June 14th 2017 @ 9:07am
        punter said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        Exactly JB, this is what this country needs, we need to start producing our more athletic players to have the skill of Luiz & at the same time encourage players with less physical ability but great vision like Coutinho.
        We have still a long way to go as a footballing country.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 9:31am
          tomer said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          Brazilian kids play Football on the streets, in the parks, every day 365 days a year, pretty much from the time they can walk. That hones the skills. I see nothing like that in Australia. Australia has a weird culture whereas people live very secluded lives behind their own fences when they are not in school or at work.

          There is not much hope until people open up, tear down their fences, create a lifestyle of TOGETHERNESS, create LIVING AREAS in the NEIGHBORHOODS, where cars are BANNED and kids can play and kick a ball.

          In Australia the car is king. Not people, not Football, not Rugby not anything else, but the CAR. Not many safe places for kids. Bloody cars racing around everywhere.

          • June 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm
            Shooter McGavin said | June 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            Italy and Germany seem to do ok..
            not to mention around 8 London based EPL teams year on year.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 11:44am
        James Jackson said | June 14th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        JB great thoughts as always, the only thing I will contend is that Coutinho actually is a very rare physical specimen, his acceleration over the first few steps is up there with Messi. Amazing player to watch, always has time.

        • June 15th 2017 @ 12:40am
          Lionheart said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:40am | ! Report

          having watched Couthino’s development at Liverpool, I’d say he’s learnt as much there as he did on the streets of Brazil.

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:21am
      bobbym said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      No wonder people now call the Roo’s The APPLES for making so many turnovers.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:44am
        SM said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        No, I’m pretty sure it’s just you.

        And it was boring every other time so you should probably just stop now.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:51am
        jamesb said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        It’s just you bobbym. The term “Apples” is not catching on.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 1:37pm
        Ian said | June 14th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        Don’t ever think about giving up your day job to be a comedian.

        That joke fell as flat as a pancake.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm
        BES said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

        actually – that’s not bad…. Here is the Australian teams consecutive passes record from the 10th to the 45th minute where I gave up and switched off.

        I only started recording in the 10th minute because I was stunned and excited to see 4 passes strung together then for the 1st time in the game. Between the 10th and the 39th minute it only happened again twice.


        In binary that spells: “Oh dear we are sooooo gonna get smashed in Russia….”

        And yet I actually heard people – including our coach – not say things like “well wasn’t THAT a total gobsmacking disaster” and “boy that was pretty embarrassing” and “we did kinda look like not very useful training cones out there”

        I think the most realistic assessment and honest comment I believe anyone made on the night was: “I think we need to scale back our expectations somewhat dramatically…..”

        I will forever watch and support the Australian team – because of course – they are MY team, but please, please – lets stop this “lets talk positive and everything will turn out alright” mantra because ummm no it wont.

        Let’s give it time and money and time and money and time and money and maybe just one day… who knows

        • June 14th 2017 @ 10:21pm
          Redondo said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

          We were counting as well but it got too depressing and stopped.You’re more resilient than we are!

          And we thought we’d toughened up by counting how many times Rooney loses the ball in a game for Manu – but the Socceroos pass completion rate is soooo much more depressing. That is saying something.

          So strange that the ‘Roarcelona’ coach should be running this mess!

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:27am
      Caltex, TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Totally outclassed in all departments. Maybe Jedinak, is not as bad as we all thought. Last night apart from the obvious lack of technical ball skills; we offered up very little steal in the midfield, to counter Brazil’s obvious superior ball players and vision. Back to the drawing board boys.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 14th 2017 @ 8:29am
        Stevo said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        “little steal” agree with you, we stole very little of the ball 🙂

        • June 14th 2017 @ 10:46am
          Caltex, TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          Yes Stevo, we didn’t steal the ball once, because we were 15 seconds behind in decision making than the Brazilians, a metre slower in moving to either intercept a pass, or make a strong tackle, and most importantly, failure to read the game. All the things the Brazilians did perfectly than us on the night.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:29am
        Fadida said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Unfortunately Mile would have been as useful as a traffic cone.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 8:37am
          Caltex, TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Maybe so, but I saw what was missing—marking space, and not players—is not going to get us very far either.

          • Roar Guru

            June 14th 2017 @ 7:47pm
            Griffo said | June 14th 2017 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

            What I observed, and not for the first time, is that we don’t move into a position to receive the ball that well – the first goal had a roo way down the line on the wing, and the Brazilian player didn’t have to do too much to intercept that first pass.

            Jedinak is very guilty of this standing still and not moving to a better receive position, and has been for some time.

            Couple this with three at the back, with an already limited passing lane to a usually lone Jedinak in the middle, and the pressure on the back three is immense. If the opponents don’t press high and cut off the three outlets and let the wings come back and link up then it looks easier for us than it should.

            Milligan should start, and although I don’t wish an injury on a player, it might be a blessing in disguise that Jedinak is out injured.

            Obviously choices for the Confeds are crucial, no more so than the back three and wings for playing out the back, and the way we are bringing the ball back there to build up slowly.

            • June 15th 2017 @ 1:14pm
              Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | June 15th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

              The first goal by the Brazilians, was a perfect illustration of what we were not doing—reading the game and making the runs to close down or intercept a pass. We were marking space that night and since Jedinak, wasn’t playing, this illustrates he is not alone in standing still and ball watching.

              • Roar Guru

                June 15th 2017 @ 3:25pm
                Griffo said | June 15th 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

                Actually the first goal was due to a poor pass, which as I said, had a player down the wing, and was easily intercepted. Our No. 8 just didn’t look up to see the Brazilian player closing the passing lane…

                Breath easy, it wasn’t your man Jedinak doing either the poor pass or not moving off the ball 😉

                As BES has pointed out, our passing completion and turnover wasn’t great first half.

                Working on off-ball movement might help the passing a little, but better decision making would also help.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:28pm
        BES said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

        The first half of your comment was spot on, but no – Jedinak IS every bit as bad as we all thought. I shudder to think of what the result could of been with Mr “I’ve got a big beard so I’m tough” on the field spraying passes anywhere and hacking down anyone threatening to run past him…

        • June 14th 2017 @ 10:36pm
          Redondo said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

          Someone else commented that if you focus on Jedinak when he’s playing for Aston Villa (instead of the game) you see how much he does for them. I know it’s like confessing to being a trainspotter but I’ve done that because Jedinak keeps being picked and I wondered why. And I still can’t understand – slow, easily rounded, poor passing, poor ball retention. It’s everything you don’t want in the shield in front of defence.

          He gets picked ahead of Milligan but almost every time Milligan plays he’s one of the top performers. Can anyone explain?

    • June 14th 2017 @ 8:28am
      JAJI said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Interestingly what was more important from a making the world cup in 2018 perspective was the following scoreline in Iran

      Iraq 1 Japan 1

      My calcs suggest the qualification puzzle now very simple

      We draw in Japan and we qualify. Before it was draw in Japan and hope for other results. Now its simply draw in Japan and we will qualify as we will beat Thailand in the final game at home and Japan and Saudi have to play each other…..

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:50am
        SM said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        I was really hoping Iraq would nick it in the end but not to be.

        Not a great result for us as it means if Japan beat us they’ll be four points clear and already qualified when they meet Saudi in the final match.

        I also fully expect the Saudis to get the result against the UAE as they now have nothing left to play for.

        So onto the playoffs it is.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 9:09am
          punter said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          That draw against Thailand away is now starting to hurt.

          However, I still think a draw in Japan & home win against Thailand will see us home.

          • June 14th 2017 @ 9:31am
            Chris said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            So right there. We would be sitting pretty on 18 points and only needing one win from the last 2 games to go through.
            Japan look flaky at times though. Have a look at their defensive mix up on Iraq’s equaliser.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 9:35am
          Nemesis said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          “it means if Japan beat us they’ll be four points clear ”

          And, if we beat Japan, we’ll be 2 points clear with a home match against the bottom nation.
          Australia has yet to lose a match in this Stage of qualification.
          Australia has yet to lose to Japan away in a World Cup Qualifier since moving to Asia.
          Japan lost at home to the UAE & needed a 90′ goal to beat Iraq at home.

          Not saying it will be easy.
          It shouldn’t be easy.
          This is World Cup Qualification.

          • June 14th 2017 @ 10:58am
            Brian said | June 14th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            I don’t recall seeing anything since 2006 that suggests we would win in Japan.

            We might just as Barcelona sometimes lose games but if form is any guide, we will lose easily and beat Thailand easily so out hopes rest on the Saudis.

            The good news is the UAE are still in it when they host Saudi Arabia so there is still a very good chance a home win against Thailand will be good enough for 2nd.

            Mind you the way we are playing one point from 3 games is about all we are worth in a World Cup at the present.

            • June 14th 2017 @ 2:03pm
              Nemesis said | June 14th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

              “I don’t recall seeing anything since 2006 that suggests we would win in Japan.”

              I don’t recall seeing anything since 2006 that suggests UAE would win in Japan.

              But, they did.

              As they say in the classics: That’s football.

      • June 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm
        BES said | June 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

        There it is again. After all these years and examples you would like to think we might have learnt by now – “we will beat Thailand in the final game” as if somehow that is in any way a certainty. As if we are in any aspect of the game a superior team to any other team in the qualification process.

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