How Can the Socceroos Win Their Group Stage Games?
The World Cup is just around the corner now and Bert van Marwijk is getting closer to naming the final Socceroos squad he will be taking to Russia.
As well as trying to pick the most talented players available to him, the experienced Dutch manager will seek to ensure that he has players who can counter the specific threats posed by Australia’s group stage opponents France, Peru and Denmark.
The Socceroos are outsiders in the group and can be backed at $4.50 with Palmerbet to qualify. But what are their best chances of success in their three group stage matches?
Socceroos Need to Cling on Against France
Van Marwijk’s first game against Norway was a shambles. The Socceroos threw away an early lead secured through Jackson Irvine to lose 4-1.
That gave the former Holland and Saudi Arabia manager a rude awakening but Australian soccer fans should be happy with the speed with which he sorted things out and modified his approach next time out against Colombia.
The Socceroos will certainly need the sort of defensive organisation and fighting spirit on display against Colombia in their World Cup opener against France. Didier Deschamps has a huge amount of attacking talent available to him but there are questions about his ability as a manager and the mentality of some of his star players.
Australia cannot stand toe-to-toe with France but they can try to frustrate them and make the most of set-pieces and crosses into the box.
Get Wide to Beat Denmark
Subject to the result against France, Australia will either be looking to build on the momentum of the opener or in need of a big three points in the match against Denmark in Samara. In either scenario, a win is far from out of the question.
That is not to say that Denmark are lacking in quality. In Christian Eriksen they have one of the best midfielders at the World Cup, Sisto is a very exciting option out wide and Kasper Dolberg has vast untapped potential up front.
Van Marwijk must make plans for Denmark’s best players but when he looks at ways of making an impact in an attacking sense, he may well look at the opponents’ weakness in defence. The Danes look especially vulnerable in the full-back positions.
Whether Åge Hareide sticks with his tried and trusted 4-3-3 or switches to three at the back, there should be space for Australia to exploit out wide. The likes of Tom Rogic, Jackson Irvine and Matthew Leckie have big roles to play while the central midfield must switch the ball to the flanks as quickly as possible.
Take the Game to Peru’s Dodgy Defence
All Australia fans will hope that Peru have already been knocked out of the World Cup by the time the two teams face each other in their final group stage game in Sochi. Peru have an admirable team spirit and will be much tougher should something remain on the line but even if this is a shootout for the second qualifying spot, Australia have a real chance of success.
From a defensive viewpoint, the Socceroos’ midfield will need to shut down Peru’s creative players, especially Christian Cueva, while the defence must remain compact. But van Marwijk cannot afford to put a dampener on his team’s attacking intent against a team who conceded six more goals than any other CONMEBOL nation to qualify for the World Cup.
The Socceroos may need a big win to qualify but, providing they’re at their best, that’s well within their capabilities.