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Analysis: Australia impress again but lack cutting edge

Friday, June 22, 2018

Samara: For the second time in six days, Australia delivered a performance that arguably deserved more than the end result, but the Socceroos will go into their final Group C game against Peru with their destiny out of their hands. 


Coming into the game on the back of three points against Peru, Denmark took an early lead through a sweet Christian Eriksen strike, but Australia did not let the setback get the better of them and responded well.

Just as against France, Bert van Marwijk's team benefitted from a handball in the box, with Yussuf Poulsen the guilty culprit, and Mile Jedinak duly converted the VAR assisted spot-kick. From then on, the Socceroos were on top but unable to take advantage as the tie ended 1-1.

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Composure after falling behind

Denmark started the brighter and opened the scoring on just seven minutes through Eriksen but, after a period of unconvincing play, Australia began to find their rhythm with the midfield trio of Jedinak, Aaron Mooy and Tomas Rogic seeing plenty of the ball.

But as was the case in their opening game, the Socceroos were struggling to get any sights on goal and their lone striker Andrew Nabbout, though industrious, failed to register a shot in the 73 minutes he spent on the pitch before going off injured.

As shown in Nabbout’s touchmap above, the striker rarely saw the ball in the final third of the pitch and when he did it was largely chasing balls down the right side. He managed just two touches in the penalty area, both of which were in non-threatening positions.

Promising positions, no end product

Jedinak’s equaliser came at a perfect time and Australia went into the interval on top. Their momentum continued after the restart and for the majority of the second half they were by far the better team.

But while the Socceroos were composed at the back and dictating the play in the centre, when the ball was delivered out wide, the end product was either not good enough or there was a lack of presence in the area to really trouble the Danish backline.

Australia worked themselves into promising positions down the flanks on numerous occasions but, as shown above, the majority of deliveries were over hit, failed to find their man or didn’t make it into the box.

In total, the Socceroos sent in 13 unsuccessful crosses from open play. Their penalty, meanwhile, was awarded after a corner from the right when they had, for once, a considerable presence in the box.

Arzani cameo offers hope

Van Marwijk opted to bring pacey winger Daniel Arzani off the bench midway through the second half and the Islamic Republic of Iran-born 19-year-old did not disappoint.

Arzani, who was winning only his fourth cap after making his debut earlier this month, looked full of confidence and direction. Despite being on the pitch just 22 minutes, only three players attempted more dribbles than the Melbourne City man.

The youngster was a threat throughout, teeing up Leckie’s volleyed effort in the final 15 minutes and then cutting in from the left and forcing goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel into a good save as the clock ticked down.

Australia now need to beat already eliminated Peru in their final Group C game on Tuesday and hope France can defeat Denmark to give them any chance of advancing. For a side that has struggled in the final third, Arzani has surely given his head coach food for thought.

Photos: Getty Images

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