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Socceroos v Ghana football match review



 

Ghana Football Association

The friendly against Ghana will really test the depth of the national team as basically the whole first-team will be unavailable for one reason or another. This game, even more so than the game against Singapore, will provide an opportunity for the A-League players to step up. The game will really test whether these domestic players have what it takes to adapt to the level of tactical sophistication required to play under Verbeek’s system.

They will also be facing a much stiffer test with Ghana being a far superior side to Singapore. While the Black Stars will themselves be missing several key players, including Essien and Muntari, the Africans will surely test the Australian defence much more than Singapore or China. Additionally, given that the weather should be ok for the game, the excuse of playing on a water-blogged surface should also be irrelevant for this game.

Give the above, this game will also be seen by many in the squad as a real opportunity to step-up against a quality opponent while the majority of the European contingent is away. And given the much tougher second stage of qualifying, presuming that Australia makes it through, Australia will really need a handful of this squad to make the step-up and become genuine alternatives or back-up options to the current first-team.

The defence

I’m expecting Verbeek to start with a flat back-four with the central pairing of North and Beauchamp. They both need match time and should Neill be unavailable for the qualifiers, this pairing is the most likely alternative. As a possible surprise move, Verbeek could start with Spiranovic and move North to the right. There are logical seasons for starting Spiranovic as he has been more involved in the first-team for Nuremberg over the last few months than Beauchamp and there should already be a level of understanding between the two Nuremberg teammates. Carney should slot into his usual position of left-back.

Whatever the defensive line-up is, it will be a fairly inexperienced back-four that will have to live without the experience of Neill. While the inexperienced defence looked fine against Singapore, the nation ranked 128 in the world was never really expected to cause much trouble. It will be interesting to see how Beauchamp and North hold up against a nation that is currently ranked 14, particularly without experienced players around them.

The flanks

In terms of the full-backs, the over-lapping runs of Carney and Emerton were a really threat in the game against Qatar and they provided a constant outlet for Australia from defence. In the game against Singapore, Adam Griffiths look unsure when getting forward from right-back while North is also a much better defender than attacker. I think with Carney on the left, unless he is given instructions to stay back, you will see a bias with the left flank combination of Carney and Troisi, who I expect to start, being used a lot more than the right flank. With Sterjovski pulling out, Australia really doesn’t have a natural right winger in the squad. Holland was used on the right against Singapore but he was mainly ineffectual in an attacking sense.

I’m expecting Kewell to play as the central attacking midfielder with Culina on the right although the PSV man is much more at home in the centre of the park. You could switch Kewell and Culina around which will allow Kewell to cut into. In any case, the attacking midfield trio of Troisi, Kewell and Culina shouldn’t be restricted in their movement. They should have the licence to roam and interchange positions which can have the affect of dragging defenders out of position.

While Kewell’s struggles at Liverpool have been well documented, the fact that Culina hasn’t been able to hold down a regular starting spot at PSV this term is probably less known. Culina has only started 9 league games while making another 9 appearances off the bench. Given the impressive form of Carle and Garcia, Valeri’s assured performance against China as well as the return to form of Burns, Culina and Kewell might come under some real pressure to hold their places in the team, especially if they do not perform against Ghana. The squeeze could be further put on Culina and Kewell if Verbeek switches to a midfield four for the qualifiers. It is fantastic that emerging Socceroos are starting to pressure the incumbents who were probably considered un-droppable not too long ago.

The midfield

I’m expecting Verbeek to go with five in midfield. I’m expecting this because Verbeek likes to control the game and dictate possession as evident by the tactics used in all three games that he has been in charge. Against China, I think he showed that he is willing to compromise our chances of scoring if we can control the tempo of the game and starve the opposition of possession and genuine chances. I think Verbeek will also be keen to test whether this squad of Socceroos will be able to exert the same level of control over the opposition as the first-team regulars did over China.

I’m expecting Australia to play a pair of defensive midfielders with Valeri bring paired with Jedinak. Watching the crispness of Valeri’s passing game against China, you get the feeling that he can offer a bit more than Grella in relation to bringing the ball over the defence. The style of football we played against China didn’t really allow Valeri to exhibit the full range of his passing ability but you saw glimpses of it during the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Verbeek assigns Jedinak with the job of winning the ball, closing down the opposition and protecting the back-four while giving Valeri a bit freedom, to be the first or second passing option out of defence and be the fulcrum from which the ball will be played from the back.

The forwards

Verbeek only has a few striking options at his disposal. The number of strikers unavailable for various reasons is length: McDonald, Kennedy, Burns, Djite, Thompson, Holman and Garcia while the squad is also without the experience of Aloisi and Viduka. The strike force consists of Bridge, Allsopp and Joel Griffiths.

If Verbeek plays a front two, you’d expect the big Allsopp to be paired with either Bridge or Griffiths or he could go with Bridge and Griffiths given that they are former teammates. If Verbeek goes with the lone striker, Allsopp is probably the player most suited to the role given his size, strength and ability to hold up the ball. However, I think the most likely candidate for this role is Griffiths. During the Jets’ Championship year, Griffiths usually lead the line alone. Given that he is also better with the ball at his feet than Allsopp and is quicker by a few gears too, you’d expect Verbeek to go with the striker that is most likely to push his way into the Socceroo squad out of the trio selected.

The substitutes

If that is the starting line-up, out of the substitutes, I’d expect Topor-Stanley to get some game time given the lack of left-back options, as well as Adam Griffiths, James Holland, Leigh Broxham and probably Mark In terms of a predicted result, I think it will end one all. But this game really isn’t about the result.

 

Australia v Ghana – 23 May 2008 – Sydney Football Stadium 8pm on Foxsports

Buy Socceroos tickets here !

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Written by Peng Chen

Read more of his thoughts at his Aussie Football Blog

 

Written by
Real Football

Published on May 19, 2008




See What Others Say
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  4. Australia vs Ghana this Friday | Byrnes-Krickl on April 20th, 2013 5:12 PM

    [...] Here is some more discussion about Friday’s game: http://www.realfootball.com.au/socceroos-v-ghana-football-match-review/2008/05/19/ [...]

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