Game One of the Group Stage for the Socceroos went about as well as I thought it would go. I would say that a 2-1 result to France is fair, but in my opinion France did not look like the side everyone was expecting to see. The Australians showed that they could, at times, play on the same pitch as this French side and I only think that will boost their confidence going into their next group stage game against the likes of Denmark.
While the flow of the game was pretty much entirely dominated by France, the Socceroos looked dangerous on set pieces, and only on set pieces. I do not have a problem with this style of play, direct f***ing football. Ian Wright, in the post game analysis on Fox Sports said something along the lines of there is no way to win a football game only being dangerous on set pieces. I wholeheartedly disagree with that idea, Australia’s strength is that they are big and strong and difficult to defend in the air. I think if Australia can find a way to utilize that better against the likes of Denmark and Peru then they will always be in the game. The real disconcerting area is that Tim Cahill did not get off the bench. I have no problem with him not starting the game, he is certainly past his prime, but damn after the lucky Pogba goal (yea it was lucky as f***) he probably should have been brought on. I get it, he is old, but the man can still score goals and cause problems for defenders and he may have been able to give Umtiti and Varane something more to worry about. Maybe the manager was saving his legs for Denmark and Peru, easier games to pull out a victory? Who knows.
The Socceroos were also hard done by the VAR (Video Assistant Referees) decision to award a penalty to Griezmann that led to his subsequent conversion at the spot. Did the defender clip him? Yes. Did it cause Griezmann to go down? In my opinion, no, but I am biased here. I think that the clip did not cause Griezmann to go down, but that is the nature of football in today’s world. If a forward feels contact towards the legs, especially in the box, they are “taught” to go down. Fair play to Griezmann for realizing that, but again the VAR decision was not correct, in my opinion. There will always be human error in sports officiating. There is not a computer system telling the referee to change the call (except for goals). The VAR relies on other referees looking at the footage and saying whether or not they think it should be a foul. What if there are some referees that let minor contact go away? What if there are some referees who never call the ticky-tack bullshit? There will always be a human element and, in my opinion, when it comes to foul calls on the field the four field referees should have the only say.
Overall I expected the Socceroos to come out and be dominated by the French, but again the French did not play to the level they can and the Australians played extremely well defensively. The Socceroos broke up play when it needed to be broken up and if you don’t like that tactic then f*** you. The big thing that hurt Australia’s overall chances was a Denmark win over Peru. If it had been a draw then Australia could have had a shot at making it through by drawing both Denmark and Peru and hoping that those two squads lose to France. I think that the Socceroos are still in a good position, but not in the best position they can be. Denmark’s up next and it is a must win game. If they win that game then they are essentially in control of their ability to make it to the knockout stages. If they draw, however, then they need to bag a bunch of goals against Peru and hope that France completely dismantles Denmark.
This is Two Foot Talk like it or love it chat shit with Ty on twitter @Tybond16.