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How should Australia set up against France?

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Roar Guru
20th November, 2022

When Australia played France at the last World Cup, the Socceroos had just two shots on target for the entire match.

The first was a one-on-one following a free-kick, and the second was the successful penalty by Jedinak after a French handball. There wasn’t a single shot on target from open play for the whole match.

Andrew Nabbout and Tom Rogic seemed to be invisible, Mathew Leckie seemed too busy defending to take part in attacks, Robbie Kruse had a shot but missed by miles and Aaron Mooy was ineffective at moving the ball forward.

It was as if Australia didn’t even have a front four.

Jackson Irvine came on with 20 minutes left and brought some energy, but was playing too deep to make a difference or have an impact up front.

All I can think of this time is to go with a basic 4-4-2 and pick players who can move the ball forward with good passing, hoping to get it to the strikers. In addition, Irvine should take up a forward playmaker role as he has excellent vision and can thread a pass, as well as score. He’d probably have been more effective in this role than Rogic if he’d been used here at the start.

With Mooy, Cameron Devlin and Keanu Baccus all capable of playing at defensive midfield, why not use try using Irvine further up, since he scored four times from 16 matches during qualifying?


As for the overall 4-4-2 formation, having two strikers gives you two targets to aim for if going long, making it harder for defenders to track both, while also leaving a second striker to support Garang Kuol if he comes on. Even if attacks aren’t successful, they’ll at least keep the ball up the other end more. Just sitting back and defending the whole match will eventually break down at some point.

When it comes to the defensive line, it hardly matters who you pick. None of them seem up to it. With key players returning from injury and others looking a bit flat at club level, they’re sure to provide plenty of nervous moments.

Up top I’d go with Jason Cummings and Mitchell Duke, although Martin Boyle could be an option if fit, while Leckie could also be another option. But Jamie Maclaren isn’t the kind of striker to use for fast breaks on counter-attacks. That’s not the way he scores most of his goals.

Behind the strikers I’d go with Irvine, who I mentioned earlier, followed by Craig Goodwin and Ajdin Hrustic (if fit) as the wide players and then Devlin as defensive mid. Goodwin, Irvine and Hrustic can all be good providers while Goodwin and Hrustic both have good defensive records, supporting Devlin. This creates a good balance between defence and attack.

If you want to mix it up a bit, you could arrange them in a table soccer 2-5-3 formation at kick off and transition to a 4-4-2 as the match gets going. It might confuse the French enough to put them off a bit as it is exceedingly rare and they likely won’t have ever seen it before.

As a slight positive, Kylian Mbappe was in the French squad in 2018 and failed to score. It might be the same this time for all we know.


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My suggested formations:

4-2-2 diamond

2-5-3 (secret 4-4-2 diamond)

2018 formations:

Australia 4-2-3-1


France 4-3-3