THE GOOD NEWS
For the Socceroos, Brazil 2014 has had a ‘feel good factor’ that can only be compared to Germany in 2006. Why are we feeling good? The media has united behind the team. England fans would envy the Socceroos outfit for the positively joyous coverage the young squad has received from the media. It’s a totally different story to South Africa 2010 when the media savaged the team.
If we wind the clock back four years to the Socceroos camp in South Africa, life was very different. The ‘professional’ media were hungry with ‘Pim Hate’, and one journo even made South Africa the locale for his own ‘Harry Hunt‘. Contrastingly, barely a mention has been made of the selection of an unfit and injured Bresciano, or Jedinak’s separate training sessions at this year’s tournament. Good!
The team is in a good place mentally. Manager Ange Postecoglou has a lot to do with this. Postecoglou broke the mould with Brisbane Roar, when he steered the Queenslanders to two Championships and a record breaking 36 matches undefeated. Most notable though is the style of play that Postecoglou instills in his teams. It was so free flowing and fluid that Brisbane Roar earned the nickname, ‘Roarcelona‘.
THE BAD NEWS
The bad news is Australia’s team of international rookies faces Chile in their World Cup opener. Forget that they are ranked 48 places higher than Australia in FIFA’s world rankings, and just check their style. They were so easy on the eye in South Africa (qualified for final 16), and results say La Roja have only improved since then. Chile have won five of their last seven matches, knocking off England 2-0 (at Wembley) and demolishing Costa Rica 4-0 along the way. Note that their striker Alexis Sanchez only plays for Barcelona.
The worst news for Australia is that we have a new central defencive pairing. On any other day Alex Wilkinson and Mathew Spiranovic would come under scrutiny as individuals, in regards to their capability against the world’s best. In Brazil, the pair is standing alongside each other with the job of plugging holes and blocking shots from the likes of Sanchez, Van Persie and David Villa. The world cup opener is just the second time the two have played alongside each other.
Unfortunately the Socceroos are set to get a red hot taste of reality when Chile hits them tomorrow. As a usually optimistic fan of the Socceroos, I hope I’m stunningly wrong, but common sense tells us that raw enthusiasm and media support can’t get you past the world’s best.