A tough day at the office for the Matildas. Coming in hot with high hopes and expectations, to be squashed well and truly by the end of 90 minutes. It’s a bit painful to do a blow by blow, and I was far too sleepy to keep the kind of detailed notes necessary to do so anyway. But here’s what went down.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Early in the piece the Matildas were pressing high, urging the Netherlands defence and keeper into making the wrong pass. We looked dangerous. Our fast forwards are primed to implement a high press. On a couple occasion the Matildas won the ball in this area of the field, and looked dangerous for it. Unfortunately we couldn’t maintain that high press throughout the game, neither could we capitalise off it. We did look organised when pressing though, so let’s take that.
Bloodworth marking Kerr out of the match. There’s no doubt, Kerr couldn’t find the space or opportunities she ordinarily can. Bloodworth produced an absolute lesson in one on one defending and how to keep a world class player out of the game. Whilst painful to watch as a Matildas fan, as a pure lover of good defensive play, this had me captivated.
None of the Netherlands forwards actually “had a day”. Yeah van de Sanden bagged two goals. But the forwards were more good because we were poor, rather than they showed up to be lightning on the park. Why is this a good thing? Because if they did show up, the final score line could’ve blown out even more.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Our defending must still be Australia or in Turkey with the missing luggage, because it definitely was not in Eindhoven. The only plan we seemed to have was a high line, where the Dutch knew to expose near Polkinghorne because she can’t chase the way she use to. We were exposed worse than my white skin in warm weather getting sunburnt. To concede a goal from a free kick because there’s four players unmarked to run into the box is woeful. Whether it was a lack of concentration, some insane tactical ideas or we’re missing someone to marshal our defence to tell players to find their flipping markers, it’s something we have a week to adjust, burn the old plan and fix. Or we could be slaughtered.
A midfield ball winning player. Without Kellond-Knight or Luik, our two natural defensive midfielders, we essentially went into this with three attacking midfielders. Worse was they weren’t even your ball winning attacking midfielders in the like of Logarzo (who was out wide) or Gorry. Whilst individually Van Egmond, Foord and Yallop are all brilliant players, none of these three are going to put in the dirty work of breaking down the oppositions play. Yallop probably had the better of play than the three, at least in an attacking sense. But defensively, there was no grit or determination to win the ball back. Van Egmond as a holding midfielder failed to pay off. Please let the experiment be over and not occur against a quality side ever again.
The impact of this match could easily fall in two different ways. The first, demoralised to have lost by three goals. The second? A kick up the arse to actually sort out something defensively.
That the Matildas have mixed up tactics and ideas in the final third, is a good thing and was on show again today, despite no reward. However, we left patches of the field exposed when we didn’t have the ball. Our high line got slaughtered. And we just didn’t have a ball winner in the midfield, which every team needs.
To go three nil down in Holland, against the European Champions, isn’t the worst thing. But bouncing back and sorting out how we defend and win the ball is essential. It will be the difference to an early shower or a deep run during the World Cup.