Reality check for Socceroos
Australia's 0-4 against Brazil at the MCG just ahead of the Confederations Cup showed defensive frailties and a gap in class.14 June 2017 | Pablo Bateson
A disappointing crowd of just over 48,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground witnessed a lop-sided encounter between Brasil and Australia that ended in 0-4 to the visitors.
The weather was fine with light winds on Tuesday evening. Despite two AFL games having being played in preceding days, the pitch surface appeared to be satisfactory.
The hype around Brasil's encounter with Argentina on the previous Friday evening was replaced by a far less intense atmosphere.
I expected a close result, a view shared by many other observers.
Let us accept the reality, the five times world champions outclassed a poorly performing Socceroos.
Naive defending gifted Brasil a swift counter attacking goal in the first minute. Despite some brief hope and glimpses of a revival in the subsequent 15-20 minutes and early in the second half, the hosts rarely looked comfortable.
Of most concern was an inability to penetrate in the final third and create clear cut scoring chances.
David Luiz was outstanding for Brasil, commanding from the central defence as a launching pad for rapid transition including pin point passing.
Socceroos Active Support (SAS) provided a focus for the main chants, although at no point were they able to get other sections of the home crowd to join in.
Brasilian 'away fans' were surprisingly subdued. The exceptions included a group of flag waving Brasilians allowed inside the perimeter fencing on the turf surface to do a circuit around the ground. Can you imagine that happening anywhere else?
The exuberance of their supporters was later restricted to celebrations in the immediate aftermath of Brasilian goals.
So what are some of the main lessons from the performances?
For Brasil, it appears they have potential for another another great team to develop over the next five years or so. By the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals, being a serious contender for title success seems highly probable.
For Australia, a rethink of the squad composition to match an evolved playing system would seem to be a healthy approach.
The Confederations Cup campaign that starts next Tuesday morning for the Socceroos provides an opportunity for coach Ange Postecoglou to make some changes or adjustments to address defensive frailties.
It was disappointing that neither Rhyan Grant nor Craig Goodwin made the most recent squad, as the wing back positions are still not resolved. These were areas consistently vulnerable to fluent counter attacking in the games against Saudi Arabia and Brasil.
Meanwhile, Japan's draw away to Iraq on Tuesday night has tightened up the World Cup qualification group standing. To take advantage of this situation, the Socceroos must go into the game in Saitama on 31st August with a more settled and effective defensive set-up.
At least three tournament games over the next two weeks against Germany, Chile and Cameroon will be invaluable in the process of getting Australia in the best possible shape to qualify for Russia 2018.
Comments and feedback welcome via Twitter @PabloFootball and @FTdotnews
Pablo Bateson is a freelance innovator and writer for football and regular columnist for Football Today. His global travels across six continents have included football in 23 countries, with 15 in Asia for World Cup qualifiers of the Socceroos and second leg of the 2014 Asian Champions League final. Previously over more than two decades, Pablo had professional policy and management roles at different times in all three levels of government, industry, consulting, the tertiary education sector, and not-for-profit organisations. He is undertaking post graduate research on football in Australia