June 22, 2018

Horse 2426 - Ball Goes Everywhere But The Goal

Denmark 1 - Australia 1
Eriksen - 6'
Jedinak - 38' (pen)

Australian football is like a man with a barbecue which is covered in chilli sausages but doesn't have any wood, nor any matches. There is a lot of meat and a fair amount of spice but no firepower.

Such is Australian football that Australia had to play a record number of matches just to arrive at the tournament proper because fundamentally the Australian team has a chronic scoring problem. Indeed Australia hasn't yet won a match at this World Cup, nor the one before it; nor the one before that either. You have to go all the way back to 2006 to find an entry in the win column. Indeed this match from the get go looked like it was going to turn out like a broken pencil - pointless - precisely because of this chronic inability to put the ball in the back of the net consistently.

Before the match had started, there was a complaint by the traveling contingent of Australian fans that transport in Russia was inadequate, as the airport in Kazan had been closed due to inclement weather and the train journey to Samara took 15 hours. This was in addition to the fact that there aren't really proper roads in that part of Russia and going by road took at least 20.

Australia's hopes appeared to be dashed just six minutes in when a flick pass from Jorgensen across the back four and a failure of Behich to even touch it, put the ball in the path of Eriksen, who needed only a single touch to dispatch it into the goal. Australian goalkeeper Matt Ryan was justifiably livid and was in danger of receiving a yellow card for mouthing off at his defenders for their laziness.

At that point, I bet that Qantas was already organising  a QF even numbered flight back to Sydney because it looked like Australia was heading for a very quick exit from the tournament. Denmark kind of parked the bus in front of goal and Australia were ineffective at winning the ball for extended passages of play. Almost half an hour had elapsed before Australia struggled into the last third of the pitch and they managed to win a corner.

From Matt Leckie's delivery inwards, the ball bobbled in the air before sailing limply over the crossbar and that would have been it except that the VAR was called to attention by Mark Milligan's frantic calls for handball. Danish defender Yurray had held his arms in the air and on the way out, the ball made contact with his forearm. If there hadn't been VAR, then the referee would not have awarded a penalty because he clearly saw no infringement and had to be alerted to it after three minutes had passed. When play was stoopedy, Jedinak stepped up to the spot.
Danish goalkeeper Casper Schmeichel had kept a clean sheet for an amazing 9 hours and 32 minutes of football before this penalty but this streak was broken as he dived to his right and Jedinak shot the ball to his right.

The end of the first half descended into chaos as the ball traveled from end to end and Australia almost scored a second time when Nabbout back heeled to Leckie who subsequently returned to the consistent pattern of Australians not being able to score. It was 1-1 going into the half and the break kind of came as a relief for the Danish as Australia established dominance in the middle of the pitch.

The second half was a complete shambles from both sides as defending flew out the window but this was coupled with total impotence from both sides.This half had more misses that a meeting of the Country Women's Association.
52' Eriksen - miss
54' Behich - miss
71' Mooy  - miss
71' Rogic - miss
72' Sisto  - Miss
74' Nabbout fell over, dislocated his shoulder and will probably not return for the rest of the World Cup... and then Kruse - miss
80' Arzani - fired the ball across the Danish penalty box and no less than three Australian players failed to put a touch on it - miss miss miss
82' Cornelius - won a free kick 20 yards out... then missed.
83' Erimiss - miss
87' Leckie - miss
87' Arzani - miss
88' Sisto - miss

I haven't seen the quality of both attacking and defending stoop to such a low level in a very long time. The goalkeepers were untroubled as the remaining twenty players ran frantically, passed inaccurately, and shot wildly. The better of these two teams which escapes the group stage, is going to find it extremely difficult to progress beyond the round of 16 if this was the quality of football on display. It was entertaining but only so far as it was evenly matched and equally rubbish.

Speaking of that, a draw keeps Australia's hopes alive but the are just that - hopes. For Australia to go through they absolutely must beat Peru and possibly by at least two goals, which looks unlikely based on the performance against Denmark. In addition to that, France must also beat Denmark. If Denmark as so much as secure one point, then they will go through and the group will end:
7 France
5 Denmark
4 Australia
0 Peru
If Denmark win, then the Australia/Peru match is a dead rubber.

If France beat Denmark and Australia beat Peru and the goal difference is favorable, then the best possible result of the group is:
9 France
4 Australia
4 Denmark
0 Peru
If Australia fail to win, not even a draw will save them from the fate of booking that QF even numbered flight next Tuesday.

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