How Van Marwijk’s Tac­tics Fell Short for the Soc­ceroos against Peru

How Van Marwijk’s Tac­tics Fell Short for the Soc­ceroos against Peru

Australia’s attack­ing approach in their 2 – 0 loss to Peru was admirable, but was it this approach that cost them the game? Our guest reporter from the EFL inves­ti­gates this the­o­ry with­in the sta­tis­tics of the game.

Where was Australia’s attack­ing approach lacking?

Aus­tralia need­ed a result in this match and they want­ed to dom­i­nate pro­ceed­ings offensively. 

Our Sports­code out­put win­dow shows Aus­tralia claimed an 5% edge in pos­ses­sion over the Peru­vians (52.5% over­all in the match).

The Aus­tralians also com­plet­ed 120 more pass­es than their oppo­nents and com­plet­ed more time per pos­ses­sion and pass­es per pos­ses­sion, show­ing their will­ing­ness to chase a much-need­ed three point result.

Aus­tralia also com­plet­ed a 45% suc­cess rate in their penal­ty box entries com­pared to only 37% from Peru.

How­ev­er, the damn­ing sta­tis­tic for the Soc­ceroos was that they let off an astound­ing 14 shots, yet only man­aged both­er Peru keep­er Pedro Gallese with two of these efforts.

The Sportscode output window shows Australian domination in all but one area - shots on target.

Where did Aus­tralia look to attack Peru?

Australia’s start­ed fast. A fact sig­ni­fied by them dom­i­nat­ing 62% of the ball in the first 15 min­utes. With the Soc­ceroos also com­plet­ing four times times the amount of suc­cess­ful drib­bles and let­ting off two shots to Peru’s zero in this time period.

Aus­tralia attacked by using their full­backs high and wide up the pitch to stretch Peru, giv­ing space to their two cen­tral defend­ers and cen­tral mid­field­ers to oper­ate with increased space.

This Aus­tralian box for­ma­tion’ con­trolled pos­ses­sion and was the engine behind Aus­tralias ear­ly dom­i­nance of the game. 

The box for­ma­tion was very hard to infil­trate, as it would have tak­en four Peru play­ers to take a man each and thus was too much of a risk for Peru to effec­tive­ly dis­man­tle with­out com­pro­mis­ing their own defen­sive shape. 

Peru were hap­py to con­cede the ball to Aus­tralia in this cen­tral area, hence the skewed pos­ses­sion sta­tis­tic in the first 15 minutes.

Australia's box formation - with fullbacks pressed up at the same height as their central midfielders.


Both Aus­tralia and Peru set up with a back 4, but with con­trast­ing setups in the make up of mid­field and attack. 

Peru opt­ed for a five man mid­field behind lone front­man Pao­lo Guer­rero, while Aus­tralia played four in mid­field, with Tom Rog­ic fur­ther for­ward act­ing as more of a cen­tral sup­port for­ward than a num­ber 10.

Rog­ic actu­al­ly spent the major­i­ty of the game up along­side the Tomi Juric at cen­tre for­ward and his attack­ing impact was shown by his 17 attack­ing chal­lenges com­pared Juric’s five.

The extra man that Peru had in cen­tral mid­field end­ed up help­ing them pre­vent balls from deep­er areas get­ting to Juric, some­what explain­ing his lim­it­ed out­put com­pared to Rogic.

Australia's attacking 4-4-2 in comparison to Peru's more conservative five man midfield and singular striker.

How did Australia’s shape back­fire on them?

Amaz­ing­ly, this ear­ly dom­i­nance of pos­ses­sion for Aus­tralia actu­al­ly lead to the first goal of the game — unfor­tu­nate­ly this goal went the way of Peru.

Due to the shape that Aus­tralia adopt­ed, there was space wide — specif­i­cal­ly down edges of the box formation. 

A long ball up to Guer­rero was sent for­ward and Rob­bie Kruse did not work hard enough to get back and help his defend­ers, being too com­mit­ted to attack­ing duties and leav­ing Car­ril­lo wide open on the right side of the pitch.

This gave Guer­rero ample time to gath­er the ball behind ene­my lines and find Car­ril­lo with the cross for the open­ing goal.

Carillo in wide open spaces before scoring the opener.

Australia’s wide mid­field­ers were out­worked by their Peru­vian counterparts:

With both Aus­tralian full­backs Ris­don and Behich high up the pitch, Leck­ie and Kruse were not pick­ing up the defen­sive slack when tuck­ing inside.

Car­ril­lo and Flo­res in Peru’s wide mid­field roles made 16 suc­cess­ful defen­sive chal­lenges com­bined, while the Kruse and Leck­ie com­bi­na­tion attempt­ed only 5 defen­sive chal­lenges between them in the entire­ty on the match.

Our Sports­code head to head out­put win­dow shows a direct com­par­i­son between Kruse and Flo­res below.

Flores undoubtedly had the edge on his opposite number in terms of overall work rate in this match.

Sec­ond half tactics

As the sec­ond half began, iden­ti­cal tac­tics were used by Aus­tralia and the sec­ond goal was con­ced­ed in the same fashion.

Once the Peru­vians had worked the ball behind Ris­don, they were stretched, allow­ing Flo­res time to find Guer­rero for the sec­ond goal.

Space found in behind the Australian defence.

Where could the Soc­ceroos have exposed Peru?

Aus­tralian chances came behind Peru’s right back in first half.

Aus­tralia appeared to high­light space behind right back Advin­cu­la as 75% of Australia’s cross­es came from the right hand side. All of these cross­es were successful. 

Space in behind the fullback was an area Australia made inroads.

Star play­er — Mile Jedinak

Peru won the game due to the sum of their parts, but sta­tis­ti­cal­ly the best on show was Mile Jed­i­nak in the Aus­tralian engine room.

Jed­i­nak again put in a shift on both sides of the ball, com­plet­ing 69 pass­es at a 93% clip, while get­ting stuck in 23 duels in the cen­tre of the park — win­ning the ball back three times in the Peru­vian half.

The Aus­tralian cap­tain was also dom­i­nant in the air, win­ning six out of eight aer­i­al duels.

With Aus­tralia press­ing high up the pitch, a play­er who will cov­er some defen­sive respon­si­bil­i­ty in the mid­dle of the park is absolute­ly vital.

The Soc­ceroos would have been caught out sev­er­al more times were it not for Jedinak’s work in the mid­dle of the park.

Mile Jedinak again had a solid all-round match for the Socceroos.

Post-match review:

It’s prob­a­bly not how the Soc­ceroos deserved to end their cam­paign, hav­ing cre­at­ed more oppor­tu­ni­ties and dom­i­nat­ed the major­i­ty of this match, but sim­ply Peru took their chances and Aus­tralia didn’t.

It’s under­stand­able to chase a result from the out­set need­ing three points as an absolute min­i­mum to progress, but a lack of work rate from mid­field to cov­er a stretched back­line ulti­mate­ly led to the two chances that were the win­ning of this match.

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