So. It’s that time again. Sleepless nights and early mornings are back. We’ve got the Men’s World Cup, which is pretty bloody exciting, even if I’ve barely watched any men’s footy since the last one. Look the upside for it being a men’s tournament is that when you tell people you’ve been up all night watching football they don’t look at you nearly as weird as they do when you try to explain “the Women’s Euros are on and I can only catch them live” (trust me, lived that out last year, people just think you’re crazy saying that). So anyway, being an Aussie who was brought up be an English father (yes dad you’re English, your accent gives you away), I’ve set myself the challenge of writing something up the Aussie and English games. So lets get to it, because I’m tired already, will just end up rambling on about nonsense and it’s only day three.
Australia v France.
Look going into this game I didn’t have the highest of hopes. Like I said, I’ve not followed men’s football closely in recent times, but a bit like how my Nan use to keep close tabs on her grandkids (me) then those tabs got a bit looser, is like how I pay attention to men’s football (love you Nan). I’ve known it well in the past, it’s still family, but often I need another family member to fill me in on stuff that’s going on. I do however know enough that France have a good team. Yes kind of in the way they always have a solid team, but also in the way of they have players who can produce magic. On the other hand, I know Australia really doesn’t kinda have that quality going around right about now. So let’s just say my expectations weren’t high.
So with that all being said, here’s the good, the bad and the VAR.
We held it together man. The first five or so minutes I was almost certain I could begin a drinking game of how often we would get it out of our defensive half without having to actually worry about the fact I was indeed underprepared without any cider. But alas, we composed ourselves, France said “here you have the ball, we know you won’t have any penetration into the box”, and whilst they were kind of right, we got to see Australia actually play some football!
Hats off to our players, they fought. We found a lot of space down the flanks, were patient on the ball and boy did we cover our arses in defence. In the lead up to this game I had been feeling underwhelmed by our defensive capabilities. But they turned it out. Completely solid, and whilst some of the tackles were niggly, they dealt with just about everything thrown at them. Especially impressive was how we dealt with dead balls. We gave away more than a few fouls, especially in dangerous areas. But France never looked like they were going to score off one of them. That’s some serious reassurance of our defensive strength against a side of this quality.
Here’s hoping our defensive strength remains throughout the next two games and can prove to be the foundation that earns us some points.
Who knew boys could be so dramatic?? Maybe I should have been aware of this by simply looking at my own brothers (they’re great but SOOO much more dramatic than me), but I had totally forgot how that had translated into football. I’ve got use to and comfortable with mostly players trying to carry on after being knocked around a bit, and refs calling for ‘play on’ whenever a soft foul occurs. But man today was a different story.
SO MANY SOFT FOULS. Notice the cap locks. It’s because I would have been yelling that at my IPad while watching it had I not been in a room with a bunch of mostly strangers who live in the same building as me. Legit right from the start, the amount of niggly tackles that just shouldn’t be in a game was horrendous. It was difficult to watch at times, especially in the first half, where we just had to dive in when it was unnecessary. Yes there was some dives happening, but there were some really silly, niggly or just really badly timed tackles. Both penalties were a result of silly fouls, one where the sliding tackle was nowhere near the ball, the other a silly handball when really there was very little danger nor advantage in doing so.
I could talk about the bad with how our lines were sometime too flat, and how exposed we were once France played down the middle. And whilst they are things that could be worked on, against an opposition against France things like that will always be on display. But the niggly and poor fouls, we can cut them out and really ought to for our next games.
Look honestly, after the A-League grand final and being a Sydney supporter, thus being robbed of more silverware, so I’m a bit of a pessimiste when it comes to VAR. There are sides to the VAR that shouldn’t be spoken of or used or trusted. So when I heard about it being used at the Men’s World Cup I wasn’t popping out the Champas celebrating the fact England weren’t going to be robbed again by wrong call over whether the ball went over the line.
I must concede on this though. The VAR tonight was on point. It had two quick decisions to make, and it made them. Yes it was odd seeing a game continue, to then be stopped and pulled back for a penalty. It was the right call though. A call like that is pivotal to a game, and the foul was clearly that, a foul (sorry to any die hard Aussie fans out there still wearing rose-tinted glasses and who will maybe fight me to the otherwise). The second, whilst already called, so kind of unnecessary, was also a solid call. It took away any of the animosity the game might have had without such a clear indication of there being a handball.
So well done VAR. You’ve found your place within modern football. Still not keen on you joining Women’s football yet, but we can talk later come next years World Cup yeah?
The final score was France 2 – 1 Australia, (in case your Optus App played up and you’re still to find out). A penalty a piece and a goal by Pogba to set the teams apart. Here’s to the next game against Denmark.