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Australia's hard pressing vs. Czech Republic secures Socceroos 4-0 win

Australia recorded a morale-boosting win over Czech Republic in Sankt Polten, Austria, on Friday, though the final 4-0 scoreline did flatter the Socceroos somewhat.

Of course, with a relatively new boss at the helm in former Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk, the greatest interest around this World Cup warm-up game was always going to be the starting lineup rather than the result.

With regular skipper Mile Jedinak resting, having joined the squad late following Aston Villa's Championship playoff final loss to Fulham, Van Marwijk opted for Massimo Luongo alongside Aaron Mooy in central midfield, with Tom Rogic in a more advanced role.

Trent Sainsbury took the captain's armband in Jedinak's absence, and, interestingly, he was partnered by usual midfield fulcrum Mark Milligan in central defence. Meanwhile, there was another surprise at right-back with Western Sydney Wanderers' Josh Risdon getting the nod.

Perhaps it was those few shock inclusions, or the fact that the team had been focusing predominantly on defence since arriving at their pre-World Cup camp in Turkey, but Australia lacked any sort of attacking cohesion in the opening stages.

Indeed, Czech Republic certainly enjoyed the better of the first-half exchanges, and should have gone ahead on 21 minutes when Antonin Barak blazed his shot well over the bar from a couple of yards out.

Arguably against the run of play, the Socceroos took the lead in the 32nd minute. Importantly, the chance came when Rogic got on the ball with plenty of time for the first occasion in the contest. Rogic played in Risdon beautifully down the right, allowing Robbie Kruse to nod it across goal for Mathew Leckie to tap in.

The second half was a completely different story. Australia dominated in almost every aspect of the game, doubling their lead not long after the half-time break through Andrew Nabbout, who surely secured his place in the World Cup squad.

Leckie then sealed his brace when Mooy won the ball on halfway and pushed forward quickly to release the Hertha Berlin winger, before the fourth goal came via a Jakub Jugas own goal off a Milos Degenek cross.

Most pleasing for Van Marwijk, no doubt, will have been that all three second-half goals came from mistakes made by Czech players under pressure from the hard pressing of the Socceroos.

Less certain, though, is which fringe players will miss the cut for the 23-man squad to be named in the coming days. Striker Jamie Maclaren failed to impress in his second-half cameo, while Tomi Juric, who did not feature in this match, must prove his fitness before booking his ticket to Russia.

There may be more hope for Melbourne City starlet Daniel Arzani, who provides an element of dynamism that could prove valuable for Van Marwijk off the bench. If Arzani is included, it could be the end of the line for the likes of Dimi Petratos and Nikita Rukavytsya.

All of that will be revealed soon, of course. For now, Van Marwijk and his charges will rest well, knowing they have made decent strides toward where they need to be in order to face the might of France in Kazan on June 16.

Rob Brooks writes about Australian football and the A-League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @RobNJBrooks

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