by Stephen Wilson, The Daily Telegraph
IF THE Socceroos take their performance cues for their opening Confederations Cup match from that of their manager, Ange Postecolgou, during his pre-match press conference, Germany can expect to be met with some stubborn, belligerent resistance.
Postecolgou took exception to a series of questions during his prescribed media duties in the bowels of Sochi's Fischt Stadium, where Australia faces the world champions in its opening group game in the early hours of Tuesday morning (AEST), notably when asked to justify picking a full-strength squad when his opposite number, Joachim Low, was busy blooding fringe players.
He was dismissive, also, of the suggestion that what happens over the next fortnight, and during the remainder of the current World Cup campaign, will define his tenure as Socceroos manager, insisting, perhaps with some legitimacy, that Asian Cup success and the strides the side have taken under him mean his "tenure has already been defined”.
But it was the claim that Germany would be fielding a notably youthful team for the final match of the opening round of fixtures that most animated him.
"If people actually want to do some research, have a look tomorrow,” he said.
"I don't buy this team's younger, somehow we're playing a weakened team, it's a bit of a myth.
"When we roll out tomorrow do the maths. Do their starting 11, do our starting 11, take an average and tell me who's younger.”
It was, in many regards, textbook Postecoglou - at times prickly; repeatedly asserting his side's right to mix it with the heavyweights - and some self awareness and wry humour thrown in for good good measure.
"As a coach - as has already been pointed out, I'm pretty grumpy - I'm hard to please,” he half joked.
"We want to perform well, we won't shy away from that. We want to play well against the best. That's the measure of how you go. But we want to win as well.”
It is a desire shared by his chief lieutenant, Tim Cahill, sat beside him and offering an equally unequivocal assessment of the team's worth.
"When everyone watches us play, managers really respect it because they can see us playing football,” Cahill said.
"Tomorrow's going to be a big game for us, but also for them.
"There's a lot of pressure on them to do well here, a lot of pressure on players playing for a World Cup spot. We can play a style that we know we can definitely beat them.
"Last World Cup I played in Brazil, I got to witness an exceptional bunch of players outplay some of the best teams in the world for big parts of games [in defeat to Chile, Netherlands and Spain].
"Yes, we didn't win the games ... [but] then we evolved in to a different stage in the Asian Cup - we won it, a competition we weren't supposed to win.”
Postecoglou himself characterised the performance in Brazil three years ago as "a missed opportunity,” with performances and results not adequately married.
He is determined that doesn't happen at the Confederations Cup.
"We performed really well ... but lost three games. We certainly don't want to be in that boat again where we play, compete well, but not win,” Postecoglou said.
"Having said that, there won't be satisfaction for me if we win and don't play well.”
German coach Low insisted that Germany would need to be on its game to combat the challenge from the Socceroos.
"We need our defence to be stable and compact because Australia is a very good attacking team with very fast players,” he said.
"They're also moving in their forward positions.”