Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Amateurish Thoughts On Brazil 2014: Australia vs Spain

  • This was the kind of match I expected from the Socceroos before the tournament again, where nothing was particularly wrong with how they played, but that they were simply outclassed by a better team.
  • To their credit, Australia tried taking the game to Spain. But the attacks always seemed to break down in the final third, before there was even a chance on.
  • Without Cahill, Australia doesn't look to have any attacking option. Even the late addition of Bresciano showed that Australia might struggle for a while as they transition away from the "golden generation". At least for now, there are no obvious successors. Leckie had a good tournament
  • All three Spanish goals were well-taken, including Villa's wonderful back-heel. I think this was easily Australia's best defensive performance of the tournament even if it still leaked three goals. At least this time, all goals came from quality play to unpick the defence.
  • Matt Ryan doesn't fill me with any confidence as a keeper. His movement and positioning looks way too tentative and unconvincing. Is he really Australia's best choice?
  • Spain finally looked like the team that won the last world cup - strong in attack, resolute in defence.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Amateurish Thoughts on Brazil 2014: Australia vs Netherlands

  • The Socceroos looked like a unified team from the start, putting together long chains of possession that resulted in attacking opportunities. 
  • On the balance of things, it would be fair to say the Socceroos had the best of the first half, with 3 clear-cut chances. Bresciano and Spiranovic could (should?) have done better.
  • Robben's break and goal showed his talent. A strong run and finish, though I didn't quite get the central defender hedging his bets for a potential cross. Robben had so much space.
  • Cahill's immediate reply would be goal of the tournament (so far - can it be surpassed?) for me if not for the Van Persie header in the Netherlands' last game. A sublime finish from Cahill, showing once again he deserves to be crowned Australia's Greatest Footballer Of All Time!
  • The penalty could have gone either way (at least according to my reading of law 12), but I was more than happy it was given. Those 4 minutes Australia had the lead was honestly something I was not expecting before the hame started. 
  • That said, Netherlands pretty much walked the ball into the Aussie net 4 minutes later. It was yet another time in the tournament so far that Australia looked utterly fragile in the defensive third.
  • The third Netherlands goal was the killer. Matt Ryan had good vision on the shot and it was hit almost directly at him, so all I can fathom is that the late swing on the shot made the difference. It's a shame that it came only seconds after Leckie squandered a golden chance to put Australia in front.
  • The selection of the Socceroos squad was aimed at building for the future, but it's hard to see past an Australian side without Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano. I guess the game against Spain will show us our attacking prowess without Australia's Greatest Footballer Of All Time.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Amateurish Thoughts On Brazil 2014: England vs Italy

  • England took a more direct approach than Italy, but they weren't really able to penetrate. Their speculative shooting from distance summed up England's strategy.
  • Italy's first goal was brilliant set piece work, with Pirlo's dummy perfect for opening the space. Marchisio's drive was very well placed.
  • England's immediate response was very well executed. Sterling's pass to Rooney, and Rooney's cross to Sturridge was very well executed.
  • Incredible skill by Balotelli with the chip that was cleared off the line.
  • Italy's attacking by crossing looked quite ineffective up until the moment a cross found the head of Balotelli.
  • Apart from Sterling, Italy had England's measure in attack. Nothing England did really troubled the Italian defence after Italy took the advantage.
  • Will Wayne Rooney ever score an international goal? Also, his corner kick was hilarious.
  • It's a shame Pirlo's free kick deep in injury time cannoned off the crossbar.
  • A fair result. England simply didn't have the attacking options to trouble the resilient Italian defence.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Amateurish Thoughts On Brazil 2014: Australia vs Chile

[Note: Socceroos fan]
  • Australia seemed to have more than enough people behind the ball, just not in a very effective way. Chile's first goal was well taken, but the defence just wasn't up to the task.
  • Chile's second goal was just good team football on their part. Australia had no answer to their open attacking style of play.
  • It took 25 minutes for Australia to string together a play that looked like they were playing as a team. From then on, they were generally competitive.
  • Attacking-wise, Australia are a one-trick pony. Put it close to Cahill's head and hope for the best. Worked twice, though once was offside.
  • Good end-to-end football, exciting play from both teams.
  • 3-1 was probably flattering to Chile - those first 20 minutes that really hurt the Socceroos. Outside of that, neither team dominated, though Chile looked more deadly going forward.

Amateurish Thoughts On Brazil 2014: Spain vs Netherlands

  • The closing down strategy both teams employed at the beginning made for a scrappy opening exchange, bogged down in midfield. Barely any goalmouth action
  • Sneijder's initial break was so beautifully timed that it was deserving of a better finish.
  • Both sides used the offside trap, though it completely neutralised Spain while the Netherlands made it work.
  • Live, the penalty looked soft but understandable. The replay showed it to be a blatant dive - disappointing that the #1 team in the world needs to resort to such tactics. Though as the game went that was the only time Spain looked like scoring.
  • Van Persie's header (and the half-length cross) was unbelievable skill. An early contender for goal of the tournament?
  • Both of Robben's goals showed immaculate ball control. He was unlucky not to get the hat-trick with that superb volley from outside the box.
  • Odd to see Casillas make two crucial mistakes that led to goals.
  • The Dutch 3-4-3 formation was great for their counter-attack style of play. Spain's 4-3-3 didn't look like it troubled the Dutch much at all.
  • The second half especially had me grinning from ear to ear. What a display!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Amateurish Thoughts On Brazil 2014: Brazil vs Croatia

  • The counter-attack system looked really deadly for Croatia. Their goal may have had some luck, but it was created by how well they broke down the wing. 
  • It was refreshing to see a Brazillian side who kept their sense of flair in the game. That Brazil kept trying to create opportunities made the first half especially incredibly exciting. Brazil going a goal down did wonders for the attacking effort they put in. 
  • Neymar's first goal was pure class. I can see why he's been hyped as one of the potential stars of the tournament. If that's how he's going to play, I hope Brazil can go all the way to the final. 
  • The penalty looked soft on TV, though the angle shown made it look like there was something in it. No doubt Fred milked it. The angle I've seen in news reports makes it look a lot worse than how I remembered it live. 
  • The penalty itself was anticlimactic, at least as far as the spectacle goes, as the battle between creative attack and resilient defence lost all momentum. 
  • The game became really scrappy in the second half, lost the excitement and flair of the first half. Substitutions do that, I suppose. 
  • Oscar's goal at the death was so audacious, yet so brilliantly taken. I suppose that's the kind of shot you can do being a goal up in injury time. I hope the world cup has many more goals like this. 
  • Brazil were the better side on the day, and 3-1 seems like a fair reflection of the game. 
  • That both teams (at least nominally) used 4-2-3-1 was slightly odd. Though both teams seemed to have the quality of players to pull it off, with Brazil making better use of wing-backs (especially Alves) out wide to have more play in the middle of the park. I wonder how Australia will do with that tactic tomorrow.