Saved worst til last, best yet to come

In the end, being fearless, having self belief and never taking a step backwards wasn't enough. What we also needed was a striker and a defence.

Even in those 20 minutes where we seemed to be taking it to Spain, where we harried them and made them fight us for possession, even then, we never really looked like scoring.

We certainly took the game to them - but what we brought just wasn't enough.

And any time they wrestled the ball from us, we looked vulnerable at the back. At times we gaped wide open. Ryan McGowan was punished at right back, reinforcing his preference to be a centre back.

Matt Spiranovic and Alex Wilkinson were exposed too often, dragged out of position too easily. In midfield, Mile Jedinak and Matt McKay were wasteful. Too many times we gave the ball away.

In attack, too many times we frustratingly delayed the final pass until it was too late. Too many times we tried to be far more clever than it required. And too many times we just failed to do the simple stuff right.

Spain often gave us more time on the ball than we ever expected, but it was squandered and frequently surrendered without even a fight, with loose passes going astray needlessly, skewering our own attack before it even gathered momentum.

Jason Davidson was again adventurous on the left flank in attack, but like McGowan, was frequently given the slip by the man he was marking, caught ball watching and paying the price on the scoreboard as a result.

As the half hour rolled round, the impetus of the Socceroos was already spent.

The flourish of David Villa's backheel flick into Mat Ryan's goal was a deserved reward for the escalating Spanish pressure and suitable punishment for the Australian mistakes made.

Andres Iniesta's ball to Fernando Torres to slot home was a delight and Cesc Fabregas's worked ball to Juan Mata killed it off. But, you know, take a look at those names...

Despite all the brave talk from the Socceroos camp, and the optimism based on the performances against Chile and the Netherlands, the reality is that a second-string Socceroos side, ravaged by injury and our all-time top goalscorer suspended on the sideline, was no match for the reigning world champions.

That shouldn't be a surprise. This group was never going to give up points or goals easily to us, least of all against Spain.

What it did expose - with nine goals against us - was a very frail defence. What was once our strength is now our weakness, a result of our new attacking philosophy and depleted defensive options.

Our three goals - two from Tim Cahill, a third from the spot via Mile Jedinak - shows our reliance on a Golden Generation survivor who will not be with us much longer, and anything else was down pretty much to chance.

Even when Cahill was not on the park, we often still seemed to be playing to the same game plan - on the rare occasion we threatened the final third - which was pointless without even Josh Kennedy on the park.

The other times, we tried to run at the Spanish defence with no clear idea of when or who would shoot.

The group ladder tells a grim tale but it's not the full story though. The future started here - with a full strength side, given time to gel, fuelled by this new self-belief and an attacking mentality, Generation Next will finally arrive.

We saved our worst till last... but the best is yet to come.

1 comment


Yes agree especially with your final paragraph Kevin. Yes we rely on Cahill at present, but of course they said we rely on Schwarzer, Neill and Kewell too. All the Golden Generation will be replaced and new stars will form, but it will take time, perhaps 6 months. Expecting them to do wonders in 4 weeks with so many injuries was tough.
However, we I believe were let down by the backs and Tommy Oar who may have Not been Brave. I believe Oar was reading all the negative things on the net and it got to him so that Tommy didn't play his usual self in all 3 games. Oar let us down, even though he's normally one of our best players. He didn't get his cross in to Cahills head at the start of the first match. He didn't shoot when he had a chance. He was nervous and he paid the opposition too much respect, probably because he read all the negative stuff written on twg etc. Anyway he'll learn and get confidence as we win in the next couple of months leading up to the AC.