Courage the new hallmark as Matildas test world’s best

first_imgWomen’s football But this again is a demand that plays well to the attributes of the Matildas group – a team bursting with individual characters willing to play without fear and to take the game to opponents, irrespective of their reputation.Unlike the at-times unbending idealism of Postecoglou, Milicić has already shown pragmatic flexibility – he’s willing to cut the suit according to the cloth. By adjusting his tactics to the individual qualities of his playing group we’ve already seen a progression from the Cup of Nations.The challenge remains to now build and improve upon this in France, on the biggest stage of all. Read more features Did the USA women’s national team abandon the old guard too quickly? Share on Messenger Share on Twitter USA 5-3 Australia: women’s football international friendly – as it happened Read more USA get better of Matildas in eight-goal pre-World Cup thriller Women’s World Cup Share on WhatsApp Matildas In the rarified air of the “Mile-High City” strange things happen in football matches between the USA and Australia. Seven years ago, these two sides played out a curious 6-2, in which Lisa De Vanna scored a virtuoso solo goal from inside her own half that underlined her status as one of the greats of the women’s game.Fast-forward to 2019, and another eight-goal encounter in Denver has given Matildas fans the opportunity both for optimism and concern. Do you focus on the fact that Australia are the first team to score three goals against the world’s No 1 team on home soil in over two years, or dwell on the fact that it’s the first time the Matildas have shipped five since that fateful first encounter at altitude? Share on Pinterest The effect was profound. With an overload created down the right through Carpenter and Yallop, the US defence at times got drawn across the field. The best illustration of that was De Vanna’s goal, with left-back Crystal Dunn pulled forward and the right back Emily Sonnett tucking in to cover her central defenders, the veteran Matilda was able to stride into far too much space and finish with aplomb.This uneven right-sided overload also contributed to Kerr’s late header to make it 4-3, with Carpenter attracting the defensive interest of Dunn once again, before playing back to an unmarked Hayley Raso (playing in the Yallop role) who had the time and space to fire in a perfect cross for Kerr.Milicić’s structural adjustments also saw Foord playing more centrally, a tactic which maximises the effectiveness of the striker’s near telepathic understanding with fellow forward Kerr, as demonstrated by their sublime dummy and one-two combination in the lead up to the Matildas’ second goal.But for all the positive benefits of the Matildas’ attacking system, there were also significant pitfalls on display. Playing a high defensive line, Australia’s defence caught the US offside seven times in the first half. But in injury-time youngster Mallory Pugh successfully sprung the trap, to lob over a stranded Lydia Williams in goals.For Alex Morgan’s opener, the space with which she had to run at goal was also a factor, after centre-back Clare Polkinghorne was isolated one-on-one and beaten for strength and pace.At times, the Matildas looked uncharacteristically nervous playing out from the back – with the US pressing high to try and turn the ball over in dangerous areas. To play consistently short, to look for the dual playmakers Kellond-Knight and Van Egmond will take plenty more work, as well as courage. Topics Read more Women’s World Cup 2019 Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Australia sport Reuse this content Early in Ange Postecoglou’s tenure as Socceroos coach we saw a game of similar break-neck freneticism and explosive attacking gusto as Australia lost 4-3 to Ecuador, having led 3-0 early on. It marked a turning point for the men’s team, as the players were encouraged to reject the staid football of previous years and to play with full belief in their attacking quality – a philosophy former Postecoglou-assistant Ante Milicić is now looking to embed within the Matildas.While the recent Cup of Nations showed a subtle evolution in basic principles, underlying this one-off friendly result was a seismic shift in terms of courage. Australia not only went to the United States looking to proactively get a result, but even altered their basic system – more aggressively – to do so.Gone was the 4-3-3 formation the Matildas had played for years under predecessor Alen Stajcić, in came a hyper-attacking 4-2-4, with Tameka Yallop (née Butt) pushing forward from midfield to overload the US backline.More than just flicking a switch to PlayStation-mode all-out-attack, this was a tactical adjustment that spoke to Milicić’s increased understanding of the talents of his squad. Regarded as one of the fittest and fastest players in the group, right-back Ellie Carpenter was given licence to push forward, almost taking up the position of a second winger when the Matildas were in possession.Working in tandem, Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond dropped from midfield to receive balls out from the back, an adjustment that identifies both their skill as ball carriers and play-starters, but also their calmness under pressure. The third midfielder, Yallop, then pushed high and wide ride, stretching the US backline with four attackers, with Caitlin Foord joining captain Sam Kerr almost as a second out-and-out No 9 central striker, and De Vanna hanging wide on the left.last_img

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