Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An all A-League 11 for Indonesia

JUST 24 hours out from the first all A-League Socceroos 11 in some time and there's quite a bit of fun to be had in trying to predict Pim's starting side from the 20 assembled in Jakarta.

But first a quick reflection on the original 21 named. The biggest surprises for me were undoubtedly the omission Travis Dodd and Adrian Pellegrino, which suggests to me that Verbeek wants to play with a pretty narrow midfield, with the width possibly coming from the fullbacks.

Joel Griffiths' form of late means he can hardly feel too aggrieved. Ditto Caceres, who, like many of his teammates, has gone off the boil since Jedinak left.

With the Mariners form in mind, perhaps the most fortunate selection is Dean Heffernan, who is lucky to get the back-up left back gig. Surely Matt Thompson could have covered Jamieson if required.

Shannon Cole's return to form higher up the pitch in the final third of the season (after a dip in the middle third), and his technical ability over the dead and moving ball earns him his spot, while Topor-Stanley's recent solid work confirms he is best at central defence.

Others from Perth shining of late and unlucky to miss are Pellegrino, Coyne and Srhoj, but keep and eye on all three.

Another late bloomer was Michael Zullo, who may well have carried Minniecon, Murdocca and De Vere with him.

It's a safe, hard working selection, sure to offer a contest. Evidently the plan is to run all day and grind Indonesia into the ground.

Which brings us to Verbeek's 11.

Let's start in goals. A month or so ago I suggested Vukovic should start. He wouldn't let the Socceroos down I don't think, and perhaps he's the best long term proposition, but on current form it's hard to begrudge Galekovic the start. His effort a few weeks ago, low to his left, to keep out a Harnwell header, suggests he's at the peak of his powers.

In terms of formation, the composition of the squad suggests a fairly narrow 4-4-2.

In central defence, Moore and Vargas should start, although Topor-Stanley would also compliment Moore. Jamieson picks himself on the left, and will look to get beyond the midfield and combine with his left midfielder.

On the right is more tricky. Elrich and Cole seem the only options, but Cole has proved at Sydney he is still learning the art of defending. The same could be said of Elrich, but his pace and energy gets him the nod, and having Moore alongside him should be a great help.

In midfield, I think Verbeek will use Reid slightly withdrawn, behind a hard working midfield trio of Celeski, Matt Thompson and McKay.

All four offer plenty of mobility and are sound on the ball, exactly what Verbeek loves, and Thomspon and Celeski in particular can be expected to get forward and support a front two. All four also offer dead-ball options.

Another starting alternative is to use Pondeljak on the right, Celeski through the middle and Thompson on the left. Pondeljak, as I've said before on this blog and many a times prior, should have played far more games under Frank Farina (admittedly the attacking midfield competition was hot), so it's great to see him getting some belated recognition, even at a time when his game doesn't posses the drive and penetration it once did. He can still do a job, as he's proving in Melbourne.

Either way, I expect to see the right and left midfielders tuck in, allowing Elrich and Jamieson to bomb-on. But, away from home, in front of a bumper crowd, they will need to go one at a time.

Later, if more width is required, Zullo can be unleashed.

All of this leaves the front two, and, while club combinations are tempting, I'd be going for an Archie Thompson-Matt Simon combination. The later appears to have the mentality to deal with most things, and gets crucial goals. Allsopp is in great goal-getting touch, so you wouldn't begrudge him a start, while Macallister offers physicality off the bench and the opportunity to play three up-top.

So, here's an 11 one hopes can get a job done in Jakarta;

-----Celeski----M Thompson---McKay-----
----------A Thompson------Simon---------

UPDATED 10.45pm 28/01/2009; According to the FFA website, this is the starting 11

82 Eugene Galekovic (gk)

3 Craig Moore (c)

32 Archie Thompson

33 Danny Allsopp

41 Matt McKay

44 Paul Reid

51 Rodrigo Vargas

66 Scott Jamieson

72 Dean Heffernan

83 Tom Pondeljak

86 Matt Thompson

So yes, there's a surprise start for Heffernan. Interesting to see whether Verbeek uses him at left back or left midfield, as one can easily see Jamieson slotting in at left midfield. Matt Thompson also gets a start, so could well be starting at right back.

Verbeek has gone for the more experienced squad members, and given the expected crowd, thats understandable. It's the Victory duo up front.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'd rather your team than the one mooted in fairfax;


I'd be shocked if Heffernan plays in midfield.

Cheers as usual for the insight

Wed. Jan. 28, 09:25:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Hey bc, having read that piece this morning, couldnt agree any more about Heffernan. On current form I was shocked he was in the squad, and would be even more be shocked to see him start.

What I will say though is that it's good man management from Verbeek to bring the boy in, given he was on the verge of selection before the broken leg...he keeps the faith, gives him a chance, and I like that.

As for Cole, not quite sure he has the defensive qualities, but maybe Pim see's an opportunity to break the game via a free-kick from just outside the box.

Wed. Jan. 28, 11:23:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost agree entirely. My midfield and defence are the same as yours, but up front I'd have Allsopp instead of Simon, whos form I think has dropped off late in the season, and for the same reason I would give Theoklitos his go in goal. Matt Thompson must play, as should Celeski. These two are at the top of their game right now.

Wed. Jan. 28, 12:22:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous sir alex said...

good to see you back and blogging

Wed. Jan. 28, 09:06:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

sir alex, good to see you back and commenting...man u flying, it hurts :-(

what can you report on nathan burns from athens?

Wed. Jan. 28, 09:43:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous sir alex said...

the club is in turmoil at moment.


blanco and edinho doing well up front. it doesnt help that the club have him listed as midfielder. most of their fans that i talk to, havent heard of him. not sure if he's playing regularly in the reserves

Thu. Jan. 29, 11:32:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

these bright lights of europe, and these shonky agents that promise the world!!

Fri. Jan. 30, 10:26:00 am AEDT  

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