France coach Didier Deschamps believes Australia have become a more treacherous opponent under Bert van Marwijk than they ever were when his cavalier predecessor Ange Postecoglou was in charge.
With Les Bleus and the Socceroos colliding in Kazan in their Group C FIFA World Cup opener on Saturday, Deschamps gave his appraisal of the change of direction enacted since the Dutchman took charge following Postecoglou’s shock resignation back in November.
And his verdict on Postecoglou’s adventurous philosophy was that it made the Socceroos more vulnerable on the international stage.
He is convinced that in the short time since van Marwijk has been at the helm, risk taking has been replaced by a resilience more likely to yield results in Russia.
“Under the previous coach (Postecoglou) Australia played with three at the back and their style was too offensive,” Deschamps said after his team’s arrival at their World Cup base to the north-west of Moscow.
“Now they play with a back four and I feel that as a result they have a better equilibrium and balance.”
Clearly convinced Australia will be far from easy-beats, Deschamps declared that it’s not just defensively that their structure looks less flimsy than in the past.
“In their last two games (wins over the Czech Republic and Hungary) they have used the same starting lineup,” he added.
“Australia are not only defending, they are also creating play.
“They’re an aggressive team, with interesting attacking potential. They’re also very well organized.”
Deschamps said he’d already settled on his starting team but refused to elaborate any further.
He did, however, confirm that striker Olivier Giroud, who suffered a nasty head gash in their final tune-up against USA, would be fit to face Australia, though he won’t be cleared to rejoin training until Wednesday.
Kylian Mbappe, who scored France’s goal in their stuttering 1-1 draw against the Americans, also picked up a knock in that match but will be able to line up against the Socceroos.