Friday, June 4, 2010

World Cup - Australia

The Socceroos made the dubious move of switching federations after the last World Cup, so they could have an easier road to qualification courtesy of the Asian Federation's rather ridiculous four spots at the tournament. Given this sort of cherry-picking, I was quite happy to see Australia end up in what is probably the infamous "Group of Death," Group D.

The Aussies play a 4-2-3-1, and they do so in a very defensive manner. They won't be winning any beauty contests, but that was obvious from looking at the squad. The central defense features Lucas Neill and Craig Moore, two tough-guys whose best days are behind them. They can be beat with pace and will not be shrinking violets when it comes to making tackles, meaning potential penalties and free kicks in dangerous positions. The plan is to protect them with two holding midfielders, Vince Grella and Jason Culina. Grella is the destroyer, while Culina is a bit more cultured.

Tim Cahill is the most important player on this squad. If he doesn't score goals and wreak havoc on opposing defenses, it will be 3 and out for the Aussies. And he cannot just be good, he will have to be spectacular. Otherwise, the only nation that takes up an entire continent will be relying on a mediocre Brett Emerton and injury-probe Harry Kewell to carry them through.

Australia have a tough defense, but I can't see them getting out of this group. Ghana, Germany, and Serbia certainly have their problems, but they all have much more talent and depth than Australia.

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