I’m Eating Waffles
Moving outside your comfort zone to check out a new place for breakfast always comes with it’s risks. Tuesday morning it was a success. My meal was called “Jessie’s Waffles”, and whoever Jessie is, they clearly have excellent taste.
The Matildas midfield moved outside their comfort zone against Chile. Saturday’s rendition that found a ticker and dictated the play, was replaced during a shake up to the team. Instead of the steady hand, with the sweet delicious passes Luik provides in midfield, Yallop, a player in fine goal scoring form for club in Norway, was tasked with the challenge of holding midfield.
Playing Yallop in that position would’ve been like eating my waffles with chicken and forgetting the maple syrup. The key elements of a fantastic player is there, but the component that brings out the best in themselves and the team is missing. It was painful to watch a player who sparked many moments of attack in France have to sit so deep, without her usual ability to turn a game on it’s head, like she has further up the park.
But really, we need to talk about how the Matildas shape up in midfield.
Both Chile matches have followed the trend of attacking through the wings. With Carpenter’s engine, and Catley in fine form, in addition to the likes of Raso and Gielnik both red hot, the flanks are an area we want to exploit like a good cafe will exploit the chance to offer another coffee once the first is finished.
The contrast between the matches however was where we built that play up. With Luik and Van Egmond in game one, the ball was being fed, recycled and played through the midfield. In Adelaide, it was often played to the flanks from somewhere in defence, with the midfield looking too disorganised to really impact the match in a meaningful, beneficial way.
One thing remains clear in how the midfield sets up, there is no plan to play a double pivot, which would see two deeper ball winners/playmakers in the middle.
Why is it important to consider this you might ask? Because if the Matildas look to continue flying down the flanks with fullbacks, there needs to be players in the midfield dropping in to provide stability in the back if there’s a quick turn over. Two holding players aren’t necessary, this job can be done with one. But it’s something that should be tested in a friendly. Add on this would be a good way to ‘blood’ in and provide support for those players who haven’t otherwise played in the area often without exposing them too much.
There were a couple things as delicious as Jessie’s Waffles for match two.
Firstly the amount of balls into the area. This was an area of massive struggle in France. Hitting a ball that wasn’t solely aimed at Sam Kerr’s head were few and far between. However, we showed a range of passes, crosses and shots that looked threatening, even if a bit chaotic in the penalty box. While the Matildas only capitalised on one, the intent and ideas were there against a Chile side who came out stronger than round one.
Secondly there’s options at centre back. This has been an area where we’ve picked second best for a while if Kennedy or Polkinghorne were out. In McCormick and Checker, there were options off the bench. Both ply their trade as centre backs, while they looked solid in the game time each saw in their home state.
Thirdly Sam Kerr is a genius, even with a missed penalty. A match where Sam Kerr doesn’t score is as rare than me saying no to a big breakfast. This rare occasion may have happened, however Kerr was at the centre of a number of good opportunities for Australia. Her hunger for the ball, ability to drop deep to drag defenders, leaving pockets going forward and eye to pick a pass demonstrate Kerr brings a lot more to a team than goals. Once again this was on full display. She’s the type of player who wins tournaments for their side, in an otherwise average team. Brilliance.
It’s A Wrap 2019
It’s been a delicious year Matildas. While we hoped for 2019 to fall slightly different, it’s the journey that counts and it’s been green and gold.
Also if anyone is wondering, the magnificent waffles I’ve been rambling about can be found at Waffle On Cafe in Hobart.
P.S. there’s a song called “Fried Chicken” that often has a whirl when it’s drunk country hour at my house, this whole article reminds me of that.