Australia stunned the Dutch with their energetic start putting in the clichéd “heroic” performance. With expectation so low any semblance of direction would be seen as a positive. However, in the end the Netherlands prevailed by a 3-2 scoreline.
The high press and gung-ho approach by Ange Postecoglou left a lot of admirers of his new look side. “Everyone’s second team” as some may say. A dynamism and pace filtered through the side with like of Matt McKay and Mark Bresciano adding the necessary guile.
The precursor to such a performance was the second half against Chile. The performance was spirited and placed hope into the formerly discontented fan. After the debacle of World Cup’s past in Durban losing 4-0 to Germany and recent 6-0 thrashings in friendlies against France and Brazil, negativity was ripe.
Pim Verbeek, former Socceroos’ boss, said prior to the game: “I don’t see any possibility that Australia will score a goal against the Netherlands.”
The same lack of faith he showed throughout his tenure with young players and the domestic league. A similar lack of faith Holger Osieck had for the younger generation with a reluctance to regenerate an ageing side.
When appointed Postecoglou spoke at length about resorting pride and exciting football to the Australian national team. Years of Verbeek and Osieck convinced Australian fans that defending deep and sitting back was the only way to play against top-level opposition.
But Postecoglou’s thrown that out of the window, he’s shown a belief in the playing staff despite a litany of injuries during his short tenure. Most recently to duo Ivan Franjic and Mark Milligan, the former not playing any further part in the tournament.
It would mean a starting berth at right-back for Ryan McGowan, a position he had not played with regularity since his time with Scottish club Hearts. And Postecoglou’s former charge during his time at Brisbane Roar Matt McKay received a call-up into the midfield.
Australia despite the changes in personnel setup in similar fashion to the last game against Chile, while The Netherlands stuck to a winning formula with Louis van Gaal’s 5-3-2.
The 5-3-2 didn’t work as well against Australia. The Dutch afforded the defense time to play out and for McKay to drop into pick up the ball from defense. The wide play from the fullbacks and wingers pushed back the likes of Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind, not enjoying as much space in wide areas as against Spain.