Socceroos stronger through adversity

Pressure builds strong teams and this period of difficulty for the Socceroos will be valuable come Confederations Cup time and Russia 2018.

Brad Smith

Brad Smith, left, battles for the ball against UAE Source: Getty Images

Australia's performance against UAE is much closer to the required quality to match our traditionally strong results at the Confederations Cup tournament.

Some personnel adjustments made a large difference for Ange Postecoglou's side.

Mark Milligan played alongside Mile Jedinak in midfield and gave necessary solidity and cover to gain complete control of the match, in contrast to the Iraq game.

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Milligan, in particular, was excellent, recovering into the defensive line when needed to stop the dangerous moments that predominated the previous match. So, too, the selection of Brad Smith on the left, a fullback for a winger, one going forward, the other struggling to come back when needed.

UAE had very little control of the game and for the most part were receiving passes facing backwards with good pressure on the ball from Australia.



This is what Australia want to see, rather than groups of opponents running at the back three and stepping up to stop counter attacks quickly keeps the opponent under constant pressure.

Bailey Wright also did an excellent job on Omar Abdulrahman, with the help of Jedinak or Milligan, which meant he was often surrounded by two or three green and gold shirts.

Most of Wright's time was spent marking Abdulrahman out of the game.

Without him, UAE had little chance of success, having only one really dangerous moment which was well covered by Australian shot stopper Mat Ryan.

Jackson Irvine has been a positive story over the past few games, making some great forward runs.

However, it was after the 65 minute mark when Australia started to find Irvine and Troisi more comfortably in attacking positions, and start to free Leckie for multiple crosses and incursions into the penalty area.



After the second goal, more good work by the coaching staff on set pieces, which have become a saving grace for Australia, another attacking midfielder could be brought on and the game was over.

This was a game that suited a back three far better. Neither UAE fullback was particularly attacking, nor their wingers as quick as the Socceroos faced against Iraq.

The UAE's reliance on their creative player left them with fewer options to get forward and their press with a front two created spaces in midfield for Australia to exploit.

The Socceroos selection had far better balance. Postecoglou's side was more capable of adapting to defensive moments and to keep control of the game.

An early goal was perfect in a tense moment, nevertheless UAE were never likely to beat a better balanced and defensively stable Socceroos.

More cohesion with the ball will be needed against the stronger teams ahead.


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3 min read
Published 29 March 2017 at 9:29am
By Craig Foster