It was Australia’s first point at a World Cup since 2010 but it might have been a lot extra. A draw with Denmark has left the nation on the point of yet one more group stage exit. Until the Socceroos beat Peru on Tuesday, and different outcomes are beneficial, Australia’s Russia marketing campaign will finish in the identical method as their escapades in South Africa and Brazil.
Samara is known as a hub for Russian house efforts, and Denmark started with rocket-like propulsion. Australia’s defensive position was minimize aside by Christian Eriksen and Nicolai Jørgensen, with the duo combining to deadly impact for Eriksen’s seventh-minute opener. However the Socceroos got here again into the sport – helped by a VAR-determined Mile Jedinak penalty – and shortly seemed the higher staff. Regardless of a 24-team gulf between them within the Fifa rankings, Australia dominated the second half and will have secured victory. “The conclusion is: we have one point and we deserve four points from these two games,” the supervisor, Bert van Marwijk, mentioned. “We had chances to win and we deserved to win.”
After his team’s loss to France, Van Marwijk complained a couple of lack of creativity. Australia confirmed a lot enchancment on this division, with the mercurial midfielder Tom Rogic having fun with one among his greatest matches in a Socceroos shirt in current reminiscence. “They created against Denmark so many chances,” the supervisor noticed. “I must be satisfied about the way we played, the creation of chances.”
This time, it was the ending that permit Australia down. “The only thing we have to do is put the ball in the goal,” Van Marwijk quipped. His staff had 14 makes an attempt on objective to Denmark’s 10, 5 on the right track for either side. Andrew Nabbout was energetic but lacked precision, the substitute Tomi Juric was nameless. Tim Cahill remained conspicuously glued to the bench, regardless of the pleas of pundits again dwelling, whereas Daniel Arzani’s late sparks of brilliance couldn’t ignite the Socceroos. It feels as if alternative knocked for Australia but they didn’t open the door.
Van Marwijk was employed as a practical, result-oriented substitute for Ange Postecoglou, who as soon as mentioned he would by no means be pleased with three factors achieved through dour soccer. But simply as Postecoglou was unable to navigate the Socceroos past the group stage in Brazil or at the 2017 Confederations Cup, nor does it look doubtless that Van Marwijk’s various type will fare any higher. The extra issues change, the extra they keep the identical.
Certainly, the similarities to final yr’s marketing campaign in Russia are starting to induce deja vu. On each events a slender opening loss has been adopted by a promising but finally inadequate efficiency, a draw the place three factors had been sorely wanted. If the Socceroos keep true to historical past, they will shine in opposition to Peru and a win will elude them once more. But hope springs everlasting among the many 15,000 Australia followers reported to be in Russia. Whereas progress to the knockout stage stays a mathematical risk, Australia’s boisterous and beer-soaked followers will proceed to sing.
Van Marwijk’s desire for stability was underlined on Thursday with an unchanged lineup and an identical substitutions, regardless of the completely different context into which Arzani, Juric and Jackson Irvine had been launched this time. But a World Cup-ending shoulder harm to Nabbout and one other poor displaying from Robbie Kruse will drive the Dutchman’s hand. A working trope of Van Marwijk’s press conferences has been his pointed refusal to have interaction in any dialogue of choice or techniques. Requested whether or not three matches in 10 days will necessitate additional change, he once more gave nothing away: “This team is fit.”
Australia will return to their close by base in Kazan, earlier than they fly to Sochi’s Black Sea seashores for the showdown with Peru on Tuesday. It’ll take luck, each at the Fisht Stadium and in Moscow (the place France meet Denmark), for the Socceroos to qualify for the subsequent spherical. Australian followers might go away Russia feeling exhausting accomplished by: up to now two spectacular performances have been left unrewarded by the footballing gods. The Denmark supervisor, Åge Hareide, mused after the stalemate “the World Cup is hard”. The Socceroos are all too conscious.