21. Australia

What Went Right?  Relied very heavily on the center of their midfield and defense. Made headway going forward though the middle, where the Socceroos’ midfielders moved the ball around, confusing their opponents (more on that later). So this was a very compact team. Despite the number of goals allowed the center of their defense was overworked and took a beating but showed up to play. Goalkeeping was masterful. The one thing that went right for Australia the most had nothing to do with them on the pitch: Serbia upset Germany, giving Australia a lifeline they so did not deserve.

What Went Wrong?  Pretty much everything else. If it wasn’t for the four primarily center midfielders, two center defenders and the goalkeeper Australia wouldn’t have had the lifeline in their last group fixture they had. They were awful at taking advantage of space, they lacked vision and creativity, and any kind of activity on either flank was either nonexistent or awful. Quite frankly, it was the defense in the rear flanks that was responsible for the center of their rearguard being under siege. Australia really didn’t have any strikers in the box to speak of; it was more a function of one of the six midfielders (that’s right, six) getting lose in the box to be the target man on any one particular attack. That wasn’t just awful – it was dumb! Why it is all of their unorthodox midfield approach didn’t include the flanks was unfathomable on a level I can’t even begin to describe.

Who Stepped Up To The Plate?  Mark Schwarzer was just overworked in goal, but he was on his game and did his best to keep Australia in every game in the face of the oncoming onslaught. There is just no way I am going to blame center backs Craig Moore and Lucas Neill for the six goals allowed; they did their level best, as did defensive midfielder Carl Valeri in front of them. Jason Culina, Brett Holman, Marc Bresciano, Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell were very active in the center of the field. Clearly the whole idea behind their unorthodox attack was to pry one of them loose.

Who Didn’t Show Up?  I don’t blame the center of the Australian defense because fullbacks David Carney and Luke Wilkshire were the absolute worst fullbacks I’ve ever seen. These two couldn’t close a door. I’d like to blame whoever they had playing out on the wings in the midfield and the front men in the box, too, but they were too confused for anybody to know who those were suppose to be at any one time.

How Was The Coaching?  If this was the strategic and tactical approach that was designed by Pim Verbeek that he wanted to play, then the coaching was horrid.

Did They Finish Where They Were Expected?  Yes, but not because of anything they did. Australia can thank the Serbs for getting a German player sent off.

Now What?  This generation of quality Socceroos are all past their prime, so they won’t be around much anymore. There isn’t a lot of football talent on the ground in Australia, so I’m not holding out much hope that they’ll get any better. The Socceroos have a habit if hiring Dutch coaches; get better ones than this jackass.

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