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Socceroos 2014 to 2018 – how times have changed

By Michael Djordjieski

Well beyond this World Cup tournament, there are bound to be comparisons with the approach of Socceroos coach Bert Van Marwijk and his predecessor, Ange Postecoglou who steered Australia to Russia 2018.

We have begun that analysis here by showing the distinct influences, approaches and preferences of the two men in the squads they took to the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.

In the four-year stretch since Brazil, the Socceroos claimed their first Asian Cup in 2015 and put on a promising display in the 2017 Confederations Cup despite being knocked out in the group phase.

The squad differences

Australia’s 2018 World Cup squad is two years older on average and the group has 305 more caps to their name, which highlights its experienced core.

The difference in personnel between the two squads has changed drastically as only five (Jedinak, Luongo, Ryan, Milligan & Leckie) of the 23 players participated in Brazil four years ago.

Tim Cahill is now the only Socceroo who was a part of the 2006 World Cup squad, which emphasises the new wave of talent coming through the team.

A big difference has been the depth in attack that the Socceroos now have at their disposal.

Van Marwijk took on board Nabbout, Juric, Mclaren and Cahill to Russia, while former boss Postecoglou went with Cahill to lead the line and bring on a young Adam Taggart off the bench, who had raced into Socceroo contention after a breakthrough season with 16 goals in the A-League.

A positive change has been the increase of players now plying their trade in European competitions as opposed to Asian and Australian leagues.

In 2014, the Aussies had 12 players representing European clubs, with three of those playing in England.

The 2018 squad has 15 players in Europe and, in a significant increase, six Australians currently play in England (Jedinak, Luongo, Irvine, Mooy, Ryan, Meredith), which has doubled since Brazil 2014, (Jedinak, Luongo & Wright).

Another notable change has seen the drop in the number of A-League players in the Australian set-up as Van Marwijk has selected only three players compared to the seven that Postecoglou took to Brazil.

This underlines the changing nature of Australian footballers seeking to break through in Europe instead of back home or in Asia.

Tom Rogic and Jamie Maclaren (on loan) had good seasons in Scotland, Jedinak almost guided Aston Villa back to the Premier League and Aaron Mooy’s campaign in successfully guiding Huddersfield to another season in the top flight are all indicators of this shift.

2014 World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (Club Brugge), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund) Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United).

Defenders: Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Jason Davidson ( Heracles Almelo), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan)

Midfielders: Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern), James Holland (FK Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town FC), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (FC Sion), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf).

Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets).

Manager: Ange Postecoglou

Captain: Mile Jedinak

Club football: Australia (7), Germany (3), England (3, 1x EPL, 2x Championship), Switzerland (2), Netherlands (2), Japan (1), China (1), Qatar (1), American (1), Belgium (1), Austria (1).

Average age: 25.7 years

Total number of caps: 395

2018 World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (Brighton & Hove Alboin), Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Danny Vukovic (Gent)

Defenders: Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), James Meredith (Millwall), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper).

Midfielders: Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Tom Rogic (Celtic).

Forwards: Tim Cahill (last played for Millwall), Matthew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Jamie Maclaren (Darmstadt 98).

Manager: Bert Van Marwijk

Captain: Mile Jedinak

Club football: England (6 – 2xEPL, 4 x Championship), Germany (3), Australia (3), Switzerland (2), Japan (2), Netherlands (1), Belgium (1), Turkey (1), South Korea (1), Qatar (1), Scotland (1), Free agent (1).

Average age: 27.6 years

Total number of caps (as recent as France match): 700

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