What Role for the Socceroos Captain?
Like every other manager of a country heading to the World Cup, Bert van Marwijk has some tough calls ahead of him. He has to choose which tactics to use and which players will get a place in his squad of 23.
There are any number of big calls for the Dutchman to make but one thing is set in stone. Barring injury or misfortune, Mile Jedinak will be the Socceroos captain in Russia.
The 33-year-old has led his country on the soccer pitch with distinction since 2014 and relishes being the man to push his teammates on both before and during matches. However, the exact role that Jedinak will play for the Socceroos remains to be seen.
For so long, Jedinak has become used to bossing the midfield. He loves nothing more than a physical battle in the middle of the pitch and has changed the outcome of many a game for both club and country right in the thick of the action.
Van Marwijk used Jedinak as a holding midfielder in both recent friendlies against Norway and Colombia. It’s the role that Jedinak has excelled in for much of this season with Aston Villa but his club manager, Steve Bruce, has been getting some excellent performances from the Socceroos captain in the heart of defence recently.
Initially, Jedinak was only drafted into the middle of the Aston Villa defence because injury had robbed Bruce of his first choice centre-backs. But such is the upturn in Villa’s form (they’ve recently secured their place in the Championship playoffs) that Jedinak could have to get used to his new position.
Everybody who has seen Jedinak play expected him to take to this new challenge with the professionalism and competitiveness that he’s famed for. But not everybody thought that he would do such a great job.
Despite his relative inexperience at the back, Jedinak has taken on the role of organising the Aston Villa backline while he has impressive stats in terms of both winning aerial duels and clearances. He’s also very comfortable on the ball, even when under pressure, making him the sort of ball playing centre-back which is so in vogue in world soccer at the moment.
We’ll get a hint at what role Jedinak will play at the World Cup in the Socceroos’ warm-up friendlies against the Czech Republic and Hungary. But whatever van Marwijk decides is the best way to get the best out of his captain, he cannot help but be impressed by his versatility.
By getting extra experience playing as a centre-back, Jedinak can cover for injuries or suspensions in Russia and can even switch roles during a match as and when the situation dictates.
Versatility appears to be yet another impressive attribute that the Socceroos captain brings to the table. If he can stay fit and fresh for the World Cup, Jedinak’s performances could yet be the catalyst that sparks Australia to spring a surprise in Russia and get a win against France in their first match, an outcome you can back at $13 with Palmerbet.