No arguments about who is the “underdog” here. On paper (and if you look at the odds on any betting website), this match should be a one-sided affair.
“We want to be able to embarrass opponents with our playing skills.”
Further, seemingly baiting the Aussies to play a more open style, Löw branded the Australian style of football “boring”, such that:
“Australia can be expected to offer anything but a great spectacle.”
Ironically, the Aussies couldn’t agree more.
Captain Lucas Neill has been criticised for acknowledging that Germany were “a superior team to Australia” and favourites to win the match. Neill said:
If it’s a draw, then it’s a fantastic result. If we can cause an upset by winning the game, then we’ll have shocked the world.”
Talisman Tim Cahill, however, was non-plussed about the comments.
“Let them throw stones, we’ll just cop it on the chin… It doesn’t bother us at all that they don’t rate us. We will just do our own thing, stay compact defensively and hit them on the break when the opportunity arises.”
The fact is that the Aussies enjoy and relish the underdog tag. Aussies simply love to get behind the little guy, the ugly duckling, the dark horse, or in fact, any other oddly-shaped, odd-looking or simply odd character that manages to triumph despite adversity. Not only in football, not only in sport, but it is an attitude deeply entrenched in the nation’s collective psyche.
From the shores of Gallipolli to the shores of Durban, the Aussies will be channelling their “backs-against-the-wall” mentality more than ever given the recent tragedy of squad goalkeeper, Brad Jones, who was forced to pull out earlier this week due to his four year old son being diagnosed with leukemia.
When Germany steps out onto the pitch in Durban, they may not face anyone who dribbles and creates like Özil or flies up and down the wings like Lahm but one thing is assured. They will come nose-to-nose with a bunch of gritty, determined battlers who will work for each other, and simply refuse to admit defeat.
It is no fluke that four out of Australia’s five goals in Germany 2006 came in the 79th minute or later. The Socceroos have a knack of scoring late goals. None are more dangerous than serial goal-poacher Cahill.
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Can Australia’s defence hold up?
Set-up by coach Löw in a structure that will offer Germany a multitude of attacking options – especially in wide areas – Australia’s aging defence will need to be on high alert if the Socceroos are to take any points away from this tie.
Germany’s inexperienced but massively talent midfield of Schweinsteiger, Khadira and Özil should provide plenty of service for the strikers, with further support from the flying full-backs, Badstuber and Lahm. In particular, Germany are likely to target the relative slowness of Australia’s full-backs, Chipperfield and Wilkshire, as an area of weakness.
However, the Aussies will be encouraged by Germany’s out-of-sorts strikers, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. Both have had a poor club season, managing only five goals in total for their respective clubs. However, put them in a Die Mannschaft shirt and parade the World Cup trophy in front of them, and they seem to become different players.
Defensively, Germany looks relatively weaker on the left, with the 21-year old Badstuber supported by Podolski, not known for his defensive duties, tracking back. So expect Blackburn star Brett Emerton or in-form Richard Garcia to loop in some crosses.
However in real terms, Australia’s biggest goal threat will be from set-pieces and Cahill’s weaving late runs into the box.
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