Mathew Leckie tangles with Andrew Nabbout at training. Picture: Toby Zerna
Mathew Leckie tangles with Andrew Nabbout at training. Picture: Toby Zerna

Roos to unleash old school Aussie muscle

THE Socceroos have vowed to impose themselves on their World Cup opponents, starting with Saturday's opener against heavyweights France.

Bustling winger Mathew Leckie declared that the Socceroos won't be intimidated by 'Les Blues' as they aim to cause a Group C upset.

Ironically Bert van Marwijk's 2010 World Cup finalists were slammed by many back home for being 'too physical' rather than technical in South Africa.

While van Marwijk has not rammed it down their throats Leckie said there were lessons to be learnt from the Dutch approach, headlined by midfielder Nigel de Jong's kung-fu tackle on Xabi Alonso in the final.

Leckie, whose physicality is aided by spending two years playing Aussie Rules as a kid in Melbourne's western suburbs, said it was vital to win the physical battle against the skilful French.

"They (Holland) had to be (physical), Spain was the better footballing team at the time,'' Leckie said.

"They had great players as well but if Spain felt comfortable - in a game of football, sometimes if you get a hard hit then you think twice about turning or (gaining confidence).

"If you get a hit, it can scare players. Every player's different, but some players get scared from those things. It needs to be done sometimes. When you want to stop a great player, sometimes these are the things that need to be done."

Mathew Leckie forces Hungary player Roland Sallai into the corner.
Mathew Leckie forces Hungary player Roland Sallai into the corner.

Leckie, who looks set to make his 54th Socceroos appearance in their Kazan World Cup opener, admitted that they had lost some of their physical edge in recent years.

"You sort of got the feeling we were playing too fair. No-one on the pitch intentionally goes out to hurt players but sometimes you need to make tactical fouls or be aggressive in areas,'' he said.

"We're physical boys but with Ange we always wanted to play fair in a way. It was always 'don't make stupid fouls, try and keep the game flowing' because a lot of Asian teams try and slow the game down.

"So hopefully we can bring that back a bit now. Definitely was missing a little bit if you compare it to the boys in former times, they were hard boys. But the game's changing in general."

Leckie, who scored five goals in 26 games for Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin and won their goal of the season award for a stunning curling strike, admitted Didier Deschamps' France had a technical superiority but that wouldn't deter Australia.

"On paper we can't match up against them, but at the end of the day it is a tournament, every game's just a one off, 90-minute game,'' Leckie said.

"As players, as individuals, they're on another level than us, hopefully we can tactically and structurally go into the game with a good mentality and anything can happen."



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