Analysis: How Australia fared against Chile
Our reporters in Brazil, Michael Lynch and Sebastian Hassett, take a look back at the match between the Socceroos and Chile.PT6M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3a45a 620 349 June 14, 2014
Cuiaba: Australia's first World Cup encounter may have ended in heroic failure, but it certainly wasn't the whitewash many assumed, or looked likely after 15 minutes.
And the language after the game suggests the Socceroos have a lot more to give. Tim Cahill clearly felt Australia should have won the game, coach Ange Postecoglou brushed off suggestions they should simply be hapy with the performance and goalkeeper Matt Ryan is clearly bullish about Thursday's clash against the Dutch.
‘‘If we get our start right the next game I think we’ll be in with a better shot," he said. ‘‘Hopefully we come out against Holland a lot more positive and being a lot braver in the beginning.’’
Brave heroics: Tim Cahill. Photo: AFP
Skipper Mile Jedinak and Cahill have also been rallying the tropps. ‘‘Timmy and Mile have already come up to me and said to try and put it past me and move on to the next game," said Ryan.
‘‘It will hurt but we’ll do all the right things now with recovery and get ready for the biggest game of our lives against Holland.’’
Australia's inexperienced team, playing with only two men who had been involved in World Cup games before, showed guts and character by the bucketload against Chile.
Tim Cahill protests against his disallowed goal. Photo: Reuters
There are plenty of lessons they can take from this experience and performance - the chief being not to be overawed by the quality and reputation of their opponents.
Austalia may lack the technical ability of group rivals Spain and the Netherlands. They may not have the guile and the gamesmanship - certainly the Chileans used all of their ''know how'' to hang on when they were under the hammer in the second period - that the big teams have. They probably won't get the rub of the refereeing green which the major powers get when they play the minnows, like Australia.
But they do seem to possess a marvellous camaraderie and spirit which ensures they will always give themselves a chance. In itself spirit is, at this level, not enough to win matches. But if the game is in the balance it will certainly take the Socceroos a long way towards their target.
World Cup 2014: Socceroos v Chile highlights
Chile's Eduardo Vargas is challenged by Australia's Alex Wilkinson. Photo: AP
In the end they came up just short, and the 3-1 scoreline in the South Americans' favour, courtesy of Jean Beausejour's stoppage time third goal, flattered the winners.
It is hard to argue with Postecoglou's assertion - and that of his players - that had they managed to build on Tim Cahill's first-half header which brought them back into the game by scoring an equaliser then the game was there to be won.
Chile looked irresistible early in this match, playing with pace, skill and verve, and when they raced to that 2-0 lead inside a quarter of an hour things looked grim for an Australian side which, Postecoglou admitted, had paid too much respect to their opponents, led by Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez.
But to their great credit Australia regained their composure and when Cahill - inevitably - struck with his head in the 35th minute to reduce the deficit the Chileans became visibly nervous and concerned. Their fluent passing game disappeared, evident only sporadically, and the weight of expectation seemed to bear down hugely for them against an opponent they were expected to beat comfortably given their respective rankings - 14 and 62.
The Socceroos shed their self effacing personality in that second period as they played all over Chile, and that is what they must do against The Netherlands in Porto Alegre.
The Dutch, who showed little respect for the world champions with their 5-1 destruction of Spain, are now full of self belief themselves so the task is huge, but Australia can take some comfort from the fact that they do have a good record against the Netherlands and probably will feel more at home taking on European opposition than Latin American.
When they eventually got going Australia's tactics proved a problem for the Chileans. The full backs, Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson got forward and hustled their wingers (Franjic's cross provided Cahill's goal while a centre from Davidson set up Mark Bresciano's marvellous volley which came agonisingly close to producing a second-half equaliser). The impressive Matthew Leckie, with his pace, power and increasing game intelligence, proved a problem throughout while he was stationed on the right flank.
The Netherlands game is a conundrum for Postecoglou to solve. While the Chileans, largely small of stature, struggled to contain the aerial threat of Cahill the Dutch will be much more accomplished at dealing with high balls and crosses, which they handle in their domestic game and the leagues where their ''foreign'' based players operate.
Australia can persist with that strategy - as Postecoglou observed after the game, it's something they do do rather well - but run the risk that it will make them predictable to a team who are more likely to be able to cope with it.
Therefore they will have to find an alternative approach, or at least one to use in tandem with the strategy of putting the ball on Cahill's head.
Bresciano, after a quiet first half, became a figure of influence for Australia and his clever passing and ability to control the tempo and flow of his team's attacks will be crucial if Australia is to find another route to goal against the Dutch.
Tommy Oar, who plays his club football in The Netherlands, had a quiet game against Chile but he will surely be relishing the opportunity to take on defenders he faces week in and week out in the Eredivisie. He will have to show more dynamism and end product, however.
Australia's rearguard was at sixes and sevens in the opening quarter hour against the Chileans, whose mobility, close passing and fluency opened up gaps all over the attacking area of the pitch.
The Dutch will play a different sort of game, perhaps less finicky, more direct: but in a front trio consisting of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie they have an attack far more formidable than Chile's, with the ability to play a dribbling, close passing game if they want.
Franjic's absence means the dynamics of the defence will change, with Ryan McGowan, better known as a centre back, a possible replacement. He is unlikely to get forward in the manner of Franjic.
This will be a huge test for the Socceroos, and a loss will almost certainly end their involvement in the World Cup with a game to spare.
But it is also a marvellous opportunity to build on the confidence taken from the first game by a largely wet behind the ears squad who will surely improve considerably on their first effort now they know what the pressure of World Cup football is all about.
Certainly Postecoglou will send them out believing they can get a result, and if they can overcome their nerves - let's put those against Chile down to first night fears - and play the in-your-face game that Cahill has talked of in the run up to this tournament then they can at least let the Dutch know they are in a match.
Whatever the outcome, this World Cup has already become a steep learning curve for a team in transition: they will be better for the experience, and the rewards could come in seven months time, when they host the Asian Cup.