Australia 2-1 Holland Analysis

Australia recorded a historic victory this morning, our first at any level against the Dutch with a 2-1 win in Eindhoven. The result being only the second loss suffered by the Oranjie this year and only their second in the Philips Stadium in 13 years. The other being to Belgium in 2004.

The Scoring went as follows:

0-1 Huntelaar (5min)

1-1 Kewell (Pen) (45+1 min)

2-1 Kennedy (76 min)

It was great to see us come from behind to grab a victory against a team who rarely loses at all. Especially considering our run now of 5 successive games in which we have conceded after our initial run under Pim of 6 Clean sheets. We pushed forward when Holland were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time and gradually asserted control over the game.

Overall the team played far better football than we have come to expect, grabbing 46% of possession against an outfit notorious for having over 60% of possession in games. We were far more composed in attack forcing the home crowd into silence for large portions of the game. Yet despite our possession we lacked the creativity and fluency in attack that the Netherlands have. This is something we really need to work on. A player like Tim Cahill is a must in order to create the unpredictability that breaks teams open.

In terms of A-League players none featured in the game with Jade North dropped for Chris Coyne in the heart of the defence, yet we saw ‘old boys’ David Carney and Bruce Djite feature with strong performances.

Australia decided against using the 4-2-3-1 formation we have come to expect and lined up with a 4-4-2 with Brett Holman doing the hard work, dropping into the midfield and swapping positions with Jason Culina in attack on many occasions allowing the attacking forays from the PSV man we have been yearning for.








Holman had somewhat of a free role in attack, looking to link up with all three lines of the standard 4-4-2 system (Defence when playing out from the back, Midfield when pushing forward and Kennedy up top). Valeri would drop deep to provide outlets for the slow buildup being incorporated and culina would often push forward when Holman dropped to keep the shape of the team.

There was not enough happening going forward for us as Culina would not make runs beyond the man up front and Holman was restricted to width and depth, not allowing for the 3rd dimension of attack, namely Penetration. I also have an issue with the selection of Kennedy. He reminds me of Jan Koller in that there are obvious benefits (Big, Strong, Tall Centre Forward = Aerial threat), but a huge downside. We must focus our entire go forward on him getting good service into the box, because he isn’t Usain Bolt, he doesn’t have the yard of quickness and agility to be a fox in the box either. We tried to play slow tempo buildup, and pretend we had a speedster up front. We only provided a good delivery to him once. That was in the 76th minute and he scored. While I am a fan of the way we were building up it was just too easy for the Netherlands to press in wide areas of the pitch and play a high defensive line to destroy our go forward.








Very solid tactically. We gave away few chances but they were down to individual error and sheer quality from our opponents. The set up was good and our playing out from the back was for the most part…. Very Dutch! We had four recognised lines in defence with the wide men taking up higher positions than the two central midfielders. Holman played higher in defence to provide support to Kennedy and our forward pressing would start a minimum of 30 metres out, thus making our defensive line about 25 metres away from our own goal. This means we packed 4 lines into about 45 metres of space with just over 10 metres between each one on average. The ‘front four’ would often drop to make 3 solid banks thus further reducing the space for Holland to play in.

In terms of the analysis there are several key moments to ponder.

We will start with the goals:

Number 1: Huntelaar

As it Happened: Van der Vaart received the ball in the centre of the field with seemingly very little on. A great long through ball was played in between Neill and Wilkshire and Babel got there first, getting to the byline before sliding in to cut it back to Huntelaar, who placed the ball in the bottom left hand corner with his first touch.

Why it Happened: First of all a terrific ball from Van der Vaart who showed he certainly isn’t short sighted. Wilkshire was clearly beaten for pace by Babel, but his initial positioning was rather poor. Our defensive set when the ball is central should require our back four to be slightly more compact.



Instead Wilkshire was too wide almost man-marking Babel, who had drawn him out of position:



The gap between our Right Back and Centre Backs was unacceptable at this level because players like Van der Vaart are paid squillions for their ability to put a ball through that gap. In Wilkshire’s defence his recovery run was good and he only narrowly was beaten to the ball on the byline after giving himself every chance to recover.

As the ball was played in all the runners seemed to be tracked but Lucas Niell allowed Klaas Jan Huntelaar to get on his blindside and he sharply stopped his run, sending Niell towards the near post while he waited for the inevitable assist. The man is called the Hunter for a reason and he outwitted Niell on this occasion and made us pay dearly.

Whose fault: Wilkshire and Niell. Schwarzer cannot be blamed because no keeper in the world would have prevented the goal once it reached Huntelaar. It was a great finish. Wilkshire left the door open initially and Niell failed to track the runner to the end. Besides that they both had good games, but that is the class of the Netherlands, making us forfeit the stalemate on the scoreboard.

How to fix it up: I think that both Luke and Lucas know the mistakes they made and will be filthy with themselves when they watch the game back. Just two poor individual reads, which happen occasionally to the best players. Not much to be done here as they will fix it themselves.

Number 2: Kewell pen

As it Happened: Maarten Stekelenburg played a short goal kick to Right Back and former Ajax teammate John Heitinga whose first time return was lets say a bit short, setting up a one-on-one for the keeper with Josh Kennedy. Both players missed the ball as they collided and Stekelenburg collected a straight red card as the referee pointed to the spot. Harry Waited for the dive of substitute keeper Henk Timmer before slotting the pen straight down the middle.

Why it Happened: Good anticipation from Josh to see the back pass in advance. Heitinga’s pass was poor but Josh’s forsight made it seem a whole lot worse. It is debatable as to whether Stekelenburg should have been dismissed but it was certainly a penalty, hence a foul by the last defender in a clear goalscoring opportunity which constitutes a straight red, despite the lack of intent.

Who to praise: Kennedy, Holman and Kewell. Holman approached Heitinga on a good angle, making the back pass a rather attractive option. I assume this was rehearsed by Pim because it made Josh’s read slightly less superhuman. Josh did well to ensure contact with Maarten and Harry stepped up with a classy penalty.

How to make it happen again: Coordinated defence is the best defence. Our defensive unit was far superior than the sum of its parts this morning. Brett and Josh are note notable defenders by any stretch of the imagination, yet they ensured a response for the Aussies on the stroke of half-time.

Number 3: Kennedy

As it Happened: Luke Wilkshire ventured forward and whipped in a superb ball for Kennedy, who made a yard of space to send his inch perfect header past the flying Timmer.

Why it Happened: Use of overlapping fullbacks is key to our success. Wilkshire provided perfect service for Josh, whose leap and finish were emphatic.

Who to praise: Luke and Josh. Luke made up for his earlier mistake with a quality cross and Josh earns judos for our second goal as well with a finish of a true target man.

How to make it happen again: Utilise the strengths of Josh. If we are using him as a starter we need to use our wide areas. Holland pressed particulary well in wide areas:

–Heitinga–Ooijer–Mathijsen–Van. B–

———–Van Bommel/De Jong———–

—-RVP–Van der V–V.B/D.J–Babel—-

Harry would drift into the areas between Heitinga and Van Persie. Whenever the ball made it through he would find a minimum of four players (RVP, one Central midfielder, the defensive mid and Heitinga) pressing him. Holland targeted this wide area in an attempt to neutralise the attacking talent on this flank and surprisingly targeted Wilkshire on the right, drawing rewards using the pace of Babel.

The solution to this is two-fold:

1. Use overlapping fullbacks

2. If it is not on switch sides as the opposition have stacked one side of the field

Our use of the wide areas is paramount. We focused too much on our left and on the rwo occasions where we went down the right we exposed Holland (One goal and a free header for Culina).

In addition to the goals we saw Culina, as mentioned above Kennedy and Holman miss clear cut chances. This is seemingly good because we made chances, but has associated issues:

1. We only made 4 clear cut chances in the whole game and had another presented to us

2. Our finishing is too poor for us to rely on so few chances

3. Out of our five chances only two fell where we wanted them (Kennedy in air or Holman at feet)

Holman cannot finish chances and that is a big problem, meaning we only had one TRUE clear cut chance to score. We are far too predictable in attack and seriously need Timmy (Cahill) back in the side.

Individual Scoring

Schwarzer 7.5: A solid game from our Number 1. Made no real mistakes and will be pleased with his performance, despite not being particularly outstanding.

Wilkshire 7: A bad read caused Huntelaar’s goal but made every attempt to eradicate his mistake and his assist for our second goal was key.

Neill 7: Not particularly great and bad judgement caused Huntelaar’s goal but otherwise had a solid game and did what was required with minimum fuss.

Coyne 7.5: Had a good game. My only complaint is his tendancy to play long balls which are not on at the moment they are played. Another game out of England is always a bonus.

Carney 7.5: Played well. Was no exposed defensively except when Heitinga got through. Continuously tried to win the left flank for us and battled hard.

Valeri 7.5: Solid game for Vince Grella’s understudy who is lloking more and more at home in the role.

Culina 7.5: Finally making the attacking surges we need. Terrific first half of the game.

Holman 7.5: Was industrious and always looking for chances. Was at home against a dutch system, but needs to transfer that to other opposition before I stop yelling about why he shouldn’t be in the Australian Team at all. Solid improvement but needs to finish chances he gets due to his great off the ball running.

Emerton 7: Always consistent. Not his best game but didn’t make mistakes and curbed his card earning tendancies.

Kewell 7: Toiled against four defenders and seemed isolated. Being targetted by the Dutch defence meant he didn’t have much chance to shine today but a solid penalty show he is on the rise. Played 90 minutes which is a great sign because we nede that again against Uzbekistan.

Kennedy 8: Played well with what he was given. Could have scored with another good chance but was responsible for both our goals and did well with the service he got.

Bresciano 6: Made little impact as a sub and was generally anonymous. Capable of far better. Don’t judge him on this performance.

Sterjovski 6: Same story as Bresciano. Needs a full game to exert himself.

Other players didn’t feature for long enough for me really rate them.

The Uzbekistan Game

Certainly won’t be easy. I expect Holman to be dropped to the bench in favour of Bresciano and Kewell to have far more freedom. We need to maximize (good) delivery to Josh up front. I see one potential weakness that I can recall from last years Asian Cup in the Uzbeks and it is Vitalay Denisov, whom I ironically consider a good player.

He is an attacking left back who is key for their success but also leaves space at the back which the remaining Uzbek defenders sometimes don’t fill.





Should equal


———————————— Denisov

But often leads to:


———————————— Denisov

Uzbekistan conceded to Iran in the Asian Cup from a through ball into this space to Javed Kazemian, who proverbially hugged the line in preparation. Kazemian is fast but Denisov tracked back well. We need someone with speed and strength here to minimize his threat and capitalize on his weakness. Luckily we shouldn’t have to swap things around as Brett Emerton should be capable of doing this for us.

Our Ball Circulation is key in what will be difficult conditions, similar to those we have collapsed in during previous games.

It is certainly a winnable game against the dark horses of our group but don’t look at our result against a 10 man Holland conserving players for the WC qualifier against a Pandev led Macedonia side mid-week and think that we are there yet. There is still a long way to go but 3-points against the Uzbeks would be a good start.

Written by Justin McMahon

One Response to “Australia 2-1 Holland Analysis”

  1. phyzix Says:

    If Pim Verbeek plays his usual stuff than you should expect a very poor game from Australia. His play doesnt have the flair of Hiddink. Verbeek is more of a form manager.

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