Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aussie sinks his countrymen in Asian Champions League

Beijing Guoan beat Melbourne Victory 1-0 last night in their Asian Champions League Group E first-leg clash at Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium.

And, it was Australian Joel Griffiths who scored to sink his countrymen.

The former Newcastle Jets striker was dangerous all night and, in the 51st minute, he collected a pass from the right and squeezed between Kevin Muscat and Roddy Vargas inside the box before shooting inside the near post.

The ball took a slight touch off Vargas’s outstretched leg and went through the legs of Melbourne keeper Mitchell Langerak.

Griffiths had been unlucky in the first half with a header that was cleared off the line by Surat Sukha.

The ball rebounded to Brazilian striker Otto, who saw his shot, aimed at the other post, cleared by Tom Pondeljak.

When the ball was fired in a third time in as many seconds, it was Kevin Muscat who finally cleared.

Melbourne had slightly more of the possession, but managed just one shot on target compared to Beijing’s eight.

Melbourne were unlucky not to take the lead late in the first half when a brilliant strike by Pondeljak brought an equally magnificent save from Beijing’s keeper, Yang Zhi.

Late in the match, excellent work down the right by Pondeljak saw a three-against-one situation in favour of Melbourne, but Pondeljak decided to pass instead of shoot and the ball was cleared.

Nick Mrdja had a disappointing game for Melbourne and should have managed at least a couple of strikes at goal.

Apart from Griffiths, Beijng were well served by their new international signings Otto, Scotland defender Maurice Ross and Bosnian midfielder Darko Matic.

The pitch was in a poor state, with straw-coloured grass reminiscent of the current dry hills of Tasmania and not a sign of greenery anywhere.

And, the temperature was hovering close to zero.


TTFAdmin said...

Interesting results. Nice report Walter.


Anonymous said...

cluclaIt was interesting to note your comments about Victory shading possession. Fox Sports said it was 51% to Victory.

Over the course of the match Victory had more possession.

However, in the first half, Victory successfully passed the ball 105 times.
Beijing passed it successfully 128 times in the same period.

Beijing effectively controlled this part of the game. Their mishit 1 out of every 9 passes. Victory mishit 1 out of every 6 passes in the same period.

Their off the ball pressure was very effective. Victory had less time and space to use the ball to the best advantage. Certainly a lot less than they are used to the A League.

At the end of the match Victory passed the ball successfully 248 times.
Beijing recorded 217 passes.

Victory also recorded 18 forward eye of the needle/defence splitting passes.
Beijing recorded 13.
Carlos Hernandez executed 9 of these eye of the needle/defence splitting passes, which is extraordinary. Muscat recorded 3.

Muscat recorded 40 passes over the match.
Brebner recorded 47.
These are high figures for the A League, but not for Socceroo midfielders, like Grella and Culina.

Victory recorded 42 mishit passes.
Beijing mishit 23 passes.

Victory intercepted the ball on 23 occasions. Muscat intercepted the ball 8 times and Vargas on 5 occasions. This is again a very high figure for each player, rarely matched by any Euroroo when playing for the Australian team.

In one on one duels, Melbourne won 29 more than Beijing. This is the norm when Australian teams play Asian teams, or almost anyone for that matter.

Given these stats, it is rare for Aussie teams to lose.

Beijing used similar tactics to what South Korea employed against the Socceroos last year. Both Asian teams used a lot of energy pressing Australia when they we were in possession of the ball early in the match. The difference was that the Korean national team did it higher up the pitch. Both Korea and Beijing appeared to run out of gas late in the match.

The Socceroos and Victory gained a lot of possession late in their respective matches. it was easier because there was greater space in midfield and bigger gaps between the lines. The greater gap phenomenon is prevalent in the A league, particularly late in matches.

One advantage for the Victory's back three (Leijer, Muscat, Vargas) to gain possession, and accrue high passing stats, was the amount of time and space afforded these three in the first half. Beijing defended in a more compact formation than most A league teams. Their forwards often ventured a bit over the half way line, but pertinently, stayed compact.

Victory found it difficult to effectively penetrate Beijing's compact defensive formation through midfield, until the Chinese team discernibly tired from the 60 minute mark onwards.

Other relevant stats, as a corollary to your article, are Mrjda's shots on goal. He got 2 opportunities late in the match as Victory started to dominate the match. He misdirected a powerful header wide of the post. He also got his legs tangled, or was wrongfooted, from a cross from the right.

Decisively Mrjda was beaten in the air too much by the Chinese centre backs.
He only passed the ball successfully 5 times. This is a low figure, but in the worst position on the field to accrue passes.

The technical superiority of the Beijing was palpable, particularly early in the match. They were able to maintain easier possession than Victory with more open passing lanes. Moreover, they could move the ball more quickly than Australian club sides.

I've added a few more categories of stats based on your astute counter arguments as to their usefulness.

Cheers Walter.

At last we've been able to post on your blog!


Anonymous said...

Actually Walter I'm astonished at the lack of responses to your articles written about A League and Socceroo games on this blog. Conversely, there seems to be great passion for the local game.

Blackjack also alluded to this issue on his now defunct blog. As you know I've had trouble posting on this blog until recently, otherwise I would've responded to these articles covering important matches.

The indifference from football stakeholders smacks of a parochial heliocentricism. I'm amazed at many of the local coaches, administrators and players involved in football in southern Tasmania displaying only a modicum of interest in the A League, W League, Socceroos, Matildas and the Australian/world football milieu in general.

Outside their own coaching, administrating or playing milieu, they seem to have only a modicum of interest in big picture football issues. Many of the stakeholders seem more interested in AFL than football at a more elite sporting level.

With this level of apathy it is doubtful we can sustain an A League team in terms of loyal, committed spectators turning up fortnightly, to watch a Tasmania United. Particularly given that every second match will involve travelling a few hours each way to Launceston or Hobart.

Most of the more passionate supporters, even campaigners, for a Tasmanian A League team I've met, are not involved in football at club or grass roots level. Is this a chance anomaly, or the norm?