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'Deer in the headlights': Defender roasted, talisman subdued - how 'terrorised' Socceroos players rated

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It was a day to forget for the Australians in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After a stunning start, France simply went to work and used their far superior quality to dominate the Socceroos for the remainder of the contest. So how did the Aussies stack up individually against some of the finest footballers in the world? Here are The Roar’s player ratings for the Socceroos’ opening match in Group D.

Mathew Ryan 6/10

On a day where his goal was directly threatened on more than 20 occasions, Ryan did nothing wrong and was little chance of making a save in each of the French goals. His movement looked reasonable and positioning astute, yet as the French began to cut the Australian defence to ribbons, Ryan stood little chance of making a significant difference. 

Aziz Behich 8/10

The Socceroos’ best on what was a tough day to be a defender in green and goal. Clearing off the line, heading to safety on numerous occasions and doing a competent job on Ousmane Dembele on the Australians’ left side, as Kylian Mbappe ran riot on the right, Behich was also the most forward thinking Socceroo, attempting to surge forward where possible and earning the respect of his quality opponents.

Kye Rowles 4/10
Sadly for Rowles, the image of a deer in the headlights came to mind on numerous occasions, as the French dominated aerially inside their attacking area. The 24-year-old was far from awful and never stopped trying, yet along with his central defending partner, was simply out positioned in the box by French attackers for much of the contest.

Harry Souttar 5/10
Like Rowles, Souttar was simply outclassed when it came to positioning from cut backs and crosses, with the French seemingly having devised a plan to expose what they probably consider two cumbersome Socceroo centre-backs. Brilliant in creating Australia’s goal, Souttar did look a little short of a gallop after his extended absence from the game.

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Nathaniel Atkinson 2/10
In an international performance he would probably like to forget, Kylian Mbappe terrorised Atkinson down the flank, with the Socceroo completely beaten for pace and skill on multiple occasions. It is no disgrace for Atkinson, yet he received a harsh football lesson.

Kylian Mbappe of France controls the ball against Nathaniel Atkinson of Australia during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between France and Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kylian Mbappe of France controls the ball against Nathaniel Atkinson. (Photo by Patrick Smith – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Aaron Mooy 6/10
At times during the first half, it appeared Mooy was taking on the French midfield single handed and why two 6s were not employed to combat the threat in the centre of the park is simply beyond me. As the game progressed, the veteran played less and less positively, with his passing also becoming quite sloppy late in the match.

Mathew Leckie 5/10
Instrumental in the opening goal of the game, Leckie worked hard throughout his time on the pitch, yet struggled to make an impact. Unable to push forward on enough occasions to use his passing skills to effect, the French had him under complete control throughout.

Jackson Irvine 6.5/10
One of Australia’s best, Irvine contended most fiercely in the midfield and brought some of the grunt and aggression that this Socceroos side does appear to lack at times. Hit the p[ost with a header at 2-1. Frustration saw a yellow card shown to him late. 


Riley McGree 4/10
Despite a few good moments, including a ball that set up Irvine’s headed chance, McGree found it difficult to work his way into the game often enough; starved of possession and controlled well by the French defenders. Graham Arnold could well stick with him, knowing that with the rare touches he had, McGree looked as dangerous as any of the Australian attackers.

Craig Goodwin 5/10
A stunning goal to open the scoring will be a memory for Goodwin that will last a lifetime, yet he also struggled to stay involved in the game for long periods due to French dominance in midfield. Far from a poor performance, yet one lacking impact thanks to the quality in the French team and their ability to starve the Socceroos possession in the front half.

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Australia's midfielder #23 Craig Goodwin (C) celebrates with teammates after he scored the opening goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Craig Goodwin celebrates with teammates after he scored the opening goal. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Mitchell Duke 5/10
One cracking strike that was close to putting the Socceroos two goals clear was the highlight of Duke’s day, yet he ran, chased and toiled admirably up front. It was never going to be a game for dominance from an Australian striker, with possession certain to be well against the Socceroos, yet Duke played the role required as best he could.

Jason Cummings 3/10
It was a disappointing injection for Cummings, as he harried in the front half without any quality service to speak of. With Arnold seeking a positive change and a potential shift in tone with half an hour remaining, Cummings never settled and his team mates were unable to connect with him.

Awer Mabil 3/10
Entering the match with the three points safely in the French bank, Mabil was ineffective on the left side, rarely daring to make runs in behind and have a crack at a French defence that did show weakness in the first half. Along with Cummings, his presence in the match did little to change the Socceroo tempo.

Garang Kuol 3/10
The most exciting player in Australian football was given a short time to impress on debut and looked like a fish out of water. Without quality service and tentative, Kuol lacked the courage to pick up the ball and run fearlessly at defenders as he does each week in the A-League. Hopefully, this experience is contextualised for him and we see him again in Qatar.

Milos Degenek and Keanu Baccus also took to the pitch for the Socceroos, yet judging such limited involvement is unfair to two players who would have enjoyed the experience, if only for a handful of minutes.
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about these ratings is that there is plenty of room for improvement against Tunisia.

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