June 19, 2013

Horse 1502 - Wanna Watch the Movie; Can't Sit Still. Flying Down to Rio; Going to Brazil.

The news outlets will naturally read that Australia has picked up 3 points, following their 1-0 win over Iraq to qualify for Brazil. They will also report that a very very angry Tim Cahill was substituted in the 77th minute for Josh Kennedy who found a Bresciano cross in the 83rd minute to break the deadlock.
What most news outlets wont tell you is how the deadlock was broken and more importantly why.

Australia started this fixture as they had against Jordan playing 4-5-1. This was compared against a much younger Iraqi side with an average age of 21 as opposed to more than 30 (skewed by 40 year old Schwarzer) who were also playing with a 4-5-1.
This meant that although both sides had plenty of attacking options running deep down the flanks, when it came to crossing a ball inwards, with was rare to find a head, or if the ball were to be played across the carpet, find a way through what is essentially 7 in defence. Oar on one side and usually Kruse or McKay on the other, had to somehow pick out one yellow head from a packed defence; and that's always a tough ask.

Curiously, the substitution of Cahill (which angered most fans at the time), changed the formation from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 which was unbalanced. Replacing Kruse for Thompson was in essence merely a direct change of personnel in a particular position. In reply, Iraq switched from 4-5-1 to 3-6-1 and finally 3-5-2 as they pressed forward late into the game. 
It is this which is critical. Bresicano's inswinging ball only really found Kennedy because he was basically not being marked by the sweeper who was dealing with Rogic who came to occupy that space in the centre of the park.
Iraq's central defenders in Ali Bahjat Fadhil and Kadhim Ali Adnan were able to hold station fairly easily because they were usually joined by one or two others. This meant that Cahill, however vocal he was, as it stood was never likely to score and I think that Holger read that; hence the substitution.

I will say this though, for me that standout of this match was Ognenovski. Ognenovski and Neill have played together solidly since 2011 and seem to know where each other are, even without looking. Okay, the days of the sweeper in modern professional football are long gone and with it the libero which was once seen in Italian football, but in one run he found himself on the end of a push and nearly scored and that takes some doing from a defender.

This was a match which was won by the tactical thinking of coach Holger Osieck. Given his remarks unconnected with the game in a week already marked by political turmoil, Holger probably would be looking for another job had Australia not qualified. I think that by backing his own decision in the face of adversity, was proven and explains some of the promise that Franz Beckenbauer saw in  him en route to West Germany winning the 1990 World Cup.

1 comment:

allan41 said...

So Holger stays till Rio? Should he get a pay rise now? And what about afterwards?