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What does the footballing world see when they look at the Socceroos?

Day 3 saw the Socceroos play their first match of the World Cup (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images).
Expert
11th June, 2018
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4136 Reads

This is about the time our nation gets a little obsessed with the Socceroos heading into a World Cup.

The excitement floods social media platforms and even the commercial news networks start to run short grabs of the national team in training or battling it out in friendlies.

Heck, even the non-football journos are starting to throw their ‘expert’ opinions our way.

As Socceroo fans we analyse, hypothesise and agriculturally cheerlead, musing on our group and our chances of survival; all the while knowing it will be tough to advance. So it should be, but when we whack on those rose coloured glasses it is easy to find reasons why our boys will do us proud in Russia.

We could cite our improved back four that seemed to be functioning better under Bert van Marwijk until the slip up on Sunday morning. Faith could be placed in our midfield stars who appear to have brought their club form from Europe and eternal optimists will hope for another Timmy moment.

Throw in young Daniel Arzani, a player of whom the world knows little, and the Socceroos are in as good a shape as they could possibly be.

Daniel Arzani

Daniel Arzani (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

There are multiple reasons why Australia can do well in Group C. But what does Group C think of us?

I have been trying to get a hold of Bert van Marwijk ever since he took over; all to no avail.

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There is a question I want to ask him. Despite not defeating the Socceroos in their direct clashes during the qualifiers, he did preside over the successful Saudi Arabian qualifying campaign.

With experience on the other side of the fence it would be fascinating to know what his blunt analysis of our squad might be. Not one full of platitudes but an honest and potentially crude assessment of the areas where an opposition perceives Socceroo weaknesses and potential advantage.

I’m guessing it might go a little like this.

Mathew Ryan
Excellent keeper who does have a tendency to play out at all costs thanks to the lingering legacy of the previous manager. Pressing high and blocking his exit channels might just produce an error or a poor decision.

Aziz Behich and Josh Risdon
Tough little buggers. They will run all day but what they have in heart they lack in height and skill in the air. Both can be exposed at the back post with searching angled balls. Ensuring they are forced to consistently track back and maintain accountability can expose defensive frailties.

Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan
Good players yet agility is their weakness. Milligan particularly struggles to turn and chase when faced with players of superior speed. The higher they sit, the more potential exists for a killer ball that catches the defence square. Both prone to the odd howler when pressurised.

Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mile Jedinak and Massimo Luongo
All solid world-class players, with the three younger men improving all the time. Mooy doesn’t deliver at international level as often as the Australian fans would like and can become slow and stagnate with the ball. Rogic and Luongo are the X factors and the men most likely yet can be retarded considerably if closely marked.

Both are dangerous when running at opposition teams with players in support and Rogic is a particular threat with his ability to hit the long ball as well.

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Beware of Jedinak when he does take to the pitch. Forget about perceptions of his lack of speed and agility, the bearded one inspires the Socceroos and offers a calming stability in defensive midfield.

Mile Jedinak

Australia’s Mile Jedinak (AAP Image/David Moir)

Matthew Leckie and Robbie Kruse
Don’t relax against these men. While they don’t hit the scoreboard often, they are toilers and will run tirelessly. Without a world class marksman in the centre, the Socceroos will always work for their goals and these two men often provide the final pass.

Diligent defence is required to negate their influence. If controlled, both can drift out of games and in turn, become frustrated.

Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout
Do not fall for the ageing appearance of a certain number four. He is more than capable of producing magic from the set piece and never underestimate his influence on this team. Do not talk to him, get him angry and engage him in any way; he thrives on it.

Maclaren is a running danger in behind yet still not polished enough on the ball to be a consistent threat. His speed is his weapon, in a similar vein to the inexperienced Andrew Nabbout. In traditional Australian style both currently lack the dexterity in foot skill required for consistent success at international level.

Juric is a clever player yet still not a consistent goal scorer in the national setup. He is the least dangerous of the four.

Far more threatening is young superstar Daniel Arzani. Watch him. He will run threateningly at defences time and time again and his improvement has been exponential over the last year.

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Tim Cahill

Tim Cahill (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Summary
All in all, the Socceroos are a working-class team and will grind away in search of a goal, rather than blasting through a defence. They are prone to indecision and hesitation at the back and can be exposed with speed.

They are a tough nut to crack and always turn up for the fight, even if they might not be able to match the international heavyweights when it comes to class and skill.

Blocking passing channels and slowing their ball movement are the keys to stopping the Australians.