Sloppy Socceroos flattered by respectable defeat

ANALYSIS: Let’s not get carried away by Australia’s narrow defeat against world champions Germany. The result wasn't that good and nor was the performance.


Tom Rogic celebrates his goal against Germany Source: EPA

The Socceroos, as Asian champions, opened their FIFA Confederations Cup campaign with a 3-2 defeat against Germany in Sochi. 

On the face of it, losing by a single goal to the world champions, even though they are taking part in the tournament with an experimental side, is not in itself that bad an outcome. 

But as coaches like to tell us when it suits them, it’s the performance that counts in matches that mean very little … like those of the Confederations Cup. 

The tournament, remember, is not exactly a massive drawcard for the world’s fans at large and some top countries would love to see the back of it. However, it does offer invaluable experience to countries like Australia, New Zealand and Cameroon. 

Coach Ange Postecoglou, who raised a few eyebrows in Russia when he declared that the Socceroos are in it to win it, might be entitled to draw positives from the team’s overall second half showing but he certainly would not be celebrating after another loss on the world stage. 

The coach commendably insists that we should shed our innate inferiority complex and cease to be satisfied with narrow defeats against the world’s top guns. 

But the defeat should be the least of his worries. 

Once again the team did not gell as a unit and at one stage it looked like another Brazil-type four-goal drubbing was on the cards.

It took the Austalians ages to put together a few neat moves that could have caused the Germans a few problems with a better final pass. 

The Socceroos were all over the place in the first half and their back-three formation was so inadequate that at one time you felt six at the back would have been a better option. 

Were it not for a soft goal conceded by goalkeeper Bernd Leno who failed to stop a low shot from the Socceroos' best player Tom Rogic, the Germans could have gone into the break three or four goals up and no Australian would have complained or felt the team was hard done by. 

The Socceroos were found wanting again early in the second half when they were cut open with ease with a ball over the top and Leon Goretzka did the damage with a shot that beat the otherwise excellent Mat Ryan at the near post.   

To their credit, the Socceroos were not prepared to give up and let the Germans roll over them and striker Tomi Juric underlined his growing stature as a Socceroos regular when he was in the right spot at the right time to scramble the ball in after Leno's fumble. 

It stayed 3-2 to Germany but if we are to be truthful to ourselves we should concede that the result papered over the many cracks that appeared all over the park in Sochi. 

There were too many ordinary performances, especially in the first half.

The fact remains that this is not a terribly strong national team: only Rogic, Ryan, Trent Sainsbury  and perhaps Aaron Mooy are genuine international class and we should keep this in mind when we assess the team’s displays and results. 

Australia’s chances of reaching the semi-finals of the competition now rest on their next game against Cameroon in St Petersburg on Thursday (AEST). 

With hot shots Chile to provide the Socceroos with arguably their sternest test in Russia on match day three on Monday (AEST), it is imperative that Postecoglou’s men beat the Africans.

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4 min read
Published 20 June 2017 at 5:30am
By Philip Micallef