Confederations Cup - Australia V Tunisia Preview

All the talk after the opening two games of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup has centred around what Frank Farina and his coaching staff will do the rectify the defensive problems that has seen the Socceroos concede eight goals.

All the talk after the opening two games of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup has centred around what Frank Farina and his coaching staff will do the rectify the defensive problems that has seen the Socceroos concede eight goals.

However Farina-s hardest decision for the final group match against Tunisia in Leipzig tomorrow morning (AEST) is perhaps what to do at the other end of the ground, where there has been no apparent problem.

So how is this so? The answer is simple - Mark Viduka (pictured above right).

The biggest conundrum for Farina is how to fit Mark Viduka into the line-up, which would basically see an end to the 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 system Farina has been employing for almost a year now. Basically the system allows for one out-an-out striker and in the big scheme of things that role is Viduka-s when he is fit and available for the national team.   The biggest problem for Farina (although it hasn't really been a problem) is the form of John Aloisi, who is the talk of the tournament after his four goals (two apiece) against Germany and Argentina and is on track to be the tournament-s leading goal scorer, if he can add to his tally against the African champions. 

Viduka is anxious to start against Tunisia, after impressing as a second half substitute against Argentina, his first real hit-out since last Christmas, after suffering back and hamstring injuries. He showed all his old skills and should have been awarded a penalty after being clearly fouled in the box not long into the second half. His ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play was clearly evident and he also added another focal point of attack, which was somewhat one dimensional in the first half, especially in terms of effectiveness.

Aloisi-s form however means that Farina cannot leave him out, especially as this is a must win game in terms of preparation for the World Cup qualifiers later this year. It would be a brave call to leave out your most in-form striker in what is still seen as an important match.

The Spanish-based striker has been clinical around the penalty area and his first goal against Germany, was a first class piece of finishing from an acute angle against whom many still believe is the best keeper in the world, Oliver Kahn.

Given he is out of contract, Aloisi is also keen to make every post a winner and already he has attracted interest from several clubs, while his current club Osasuna will need to review its new contract offer to him, if he is to stay, which reportedly he is prepared to do.

Aloisi clearly benefited from Viduka-s presence in and around the penalty box, with the Middlesbrough striker becoming the centre of attention for the Argentine defence, while Aloisi had a little more freedom and he exploited it to the max, by winning a penalty with neat foot work and then pouncing on a mistake at the back.

It-s hard to see both fitting into the current system employed by Farina, as the two wide men supporting the lone striker are more in traditional winger mould of player, in getting down the line and in behind the defence and getting good crosses into the middle. Neither Viduka nor Aloisi has the pace to play such a role, so to fit them both in means a change of system.

Farina has often said he wants his team to be able to play a variety of systems at any given time, dependant on who is at his disposal. The second half saw them change the system and at the end of the half they effectively finished level with the Argentine-s after we gifted them two goals through poor defending.

What was also noticeable in the second half was that Argentina wasn-t able to dictate play as they had done in the first half, where with ample space at the back they played to their pace and could control their attacks.

With Viduka and Aloisi up front in the second half, the Argentine defence didn-t have as much time on the ball and so effectively, Australia-s defence started further up the ground and the Argentine attack at times was more disjointed.

The defensive frailties have been evident in both games, but at least there is one good thing for Farina, and that-s the honesty with which his defence has accepted the blame for their obvious failings in the opening two games and preparedness to do something about it.

While captain Craig Moore is a certain starter in the centre of defence, who partners him will be Farina-s main selection dilemma. This could all depend on which system he wants to use, whether to start with three in defence or a flat back four.

Lucas Neill is likely to retain his place at the back, while many would like to see Ljubo Milicevic play in his natural position at the back rather than in a defensive midfield role, which he played in for the first two games. This could possibly mean no place for Tony Vidmar, who started against Argentina, with Tony Popovic unavailable after a tournament ending injury suffered against Germany. Kevin Muscat, who came off at half time for Viduka in the reshuffle, could also find himself relegated to the starting bench.

The midfield also poses a couple of questions for Farina, especially concerning Tim Cahill, who looks in need of rest after a long season with Everton. He wasn-t as effective as we know he can be in the opening two games and Farina may be tempted to give Jason Culina a starting berth after coming on as a substitute in the first two games.

Scott Chipperfield and Josip Skoko have been the most effective midfielders so far and should keep their places, while new Fulham recruit Ahmad Elrich, who is fresh and ready to explode could come into consideration on the right side of midfield.

Our performances have earned us tremendous respect against two countries that are among the superpowers of the game, however failure to get any result against Tunisia will put those performances way into the background.

Despite this being a dead rubber so to speak, Frank will be imploring his team to treat it as a do-or-die game with a lot of stake. Let-s hope the players take heed and can deliver on what their first two performances have deserved - a result at the very least.    There will be a live broadcast of the Australia v Tunisia match on SBS from 4.30am (match kick-off is at 4.45am). For a live web update, click here.