There’s no doubt it’s a thinker over what to pull out against Sweden.
Don’t fix what ain’t broken is to be weighed up against Sweden being a different outfit to New Zealand. Where the scales land is what I’ll inevitably get wrong, but hopefully the ones in charge don’t!
“Dont fix it”
Here are the pros of sticking with the starting XI from round one.
Clearly things worked and the balance found defensive confidence but more importantly fluidity between the lines. That fluidity produced the best attacking display from the Matildas in a long time.
Simon was able to support Kerr, linking play and finding pockets of space or drawing players away from Kerr. Foord was perhaps the weaker of the forwards, but her tenacity created corners that created chances and caused trouble.
It’s tough to shift up the midfield after Yallop’s opening goal of the Matildas campaign was a product of her actually playing centrally instead of as a wingback. While van Egmond showed more surety with the safety of the three centre backs behind her.
There’s no doubt having Catley on the flank worked. Carpenter did sit deeper as a centre back, but it was almost a case of tag, switching with Raso to push on forward into the space left by Simon cutting in centrally.
One thing is almost certain, there doesn’t seem to be any confidence in Kennedy starting. Should that change? What can’t be argued is that before the defence was tweaked late in the second half, it was looking very comfortable with Luik, Polkinghorne and Carpenter.
Williams was rarely troubled in goal, but unfortunately couldn’t get away with the clean sheet.
Sweden is a very different prospect, here’s the options on how to tweak some things.
The plan against Sweden changes. They’ve got the upper hand in the group after a scalp against the USA. Instead of going in with a must win mentality, a draw will do the job here. Secure a draw and it’s very likely the ticket to the next round for both teams.
Where does that draw start? Unfortunately in the eyes of some, inevitable in the eyes of others, that starts with a goalkeeper swap.
Micah had a player of the match performance against Sweden barely a month ago. Williams nearly let through a blunder and isn’t coming in with the confidence of a clean sheet. It might be a matter of splitting hairs of which way to go, but I’m siding with the bold to go with youth and form over experience here.
Moving forward to defence. The strongest solely defensive unit seems to be Catley, Polkinghorne and Carpenter, with Kennedy still on the outer. Based on confidence of not starting, I’ve let Kennedy sit on the bench once more.
The trouble with moving Catley inside is who takes over at wingback. Yallop could, Gielnik is an outsider at this point and Luik would be the other option. Luik is no doubt the strongest option, but again is better utilised through the centre.
On the other side, to knock Raso off as right back would mean putting on some youth in Grant or Nevin. Considering they didn’t get any minutes against New Zealand, that’s looking unlikely against Sweden. And not even I’m that bold at this point.
The reason to have Yallop move to wing back is to have Luik anchoring the midfield with van Egmond. It’s a matter of where Sweden’s threat lies. It’s everywhere, but two headed goals resulting from crosses in open play means our best defenders need to be on the flank. This means not having makeshift defenders out there.
If Kellond-Knight were fit, the dream would be real. I’d throw Kellond-Knight and van Egmond in midfield together, Luik at centre back and Catley at wingback. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Logarzo or Cooney-Cross are other players that could step in at midfiel. However it would be tough to sit Yallop out for either, and van Egmond remains untouchable, rightly or wrongly.
There’s options up front. Gielnik or Logarzo again and Fowler saw minutes. They offer something different, maybe Gielnik being more likely to drop and compete for the ball than Simon or Foord would be a fair trade.
“On the balance”
Even trying to change the line up I’ve come up against it haven’t I?
So don’t fix what ain’t broken is what I’m running with.
I do think goalkeeping is a little broken, so there’s my forced change.
While Simon might not fit with the defensive display needed against Sweden, her ability on the ball is the pay off. Logarzo could step in there, but I can’t not name Simon at this point. I wrote a damn letter to her for goodness sake.