The Aaron Mooy verdict after Celtic midfielder faces elite France side at World Cup

By John McGinley

November 22, 2022

Aaron Mooy became the first Celtic player to start at this year’s World Cup, going up against an elite France side with Australia in Group D of the competition.

Tonight’s clash was undoubtedly the toughest task for Graham Arnold’s outfit on paper at the tournament with Denmark and Tunisia making up the remainder of the group.

Predictably, the reigning World Cup holders found a way to victory after Adrien Rabiot, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe fired in the goals to overturn Craig Goodwin’s shock early opener for a 4-1 win.

Photo by Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Mooy was given the nod in a Celtic-themed midfield three alongside former player Jackson Irvine, now at St Pauli, and January transfer target Riley McGree, who went on to sign for Middlesbrough.

The first 20 minutes were undoubtedly the Bhoys midfielder’s brightest period of the match, helping establish an Australian foothold in the encounter and the one-goal lead that worried the French for half an hour.

He was finding himself in some nice pockets of space up against Adrian Rabiot and Aurelien Tchouameni, setting an initial tempo and giving the Socceroos belief they could pull off a massive result. At that stage, he was one of the better performers on the pitch.

However, once France asserted themselves and reversed that goal disadvantage, they effectively took control of the encounter. Australia dropped ever deeper and the result became inevitable. Mooy and his teammates ultimately struggled to cope with their quality and were outclassed, which is no real disgrace.

Nobody was busier on the ball in the Australian side than the Celtic man with 82 touches in total, completing 89% of his 65 attempted passes, six of which were into the final third. Initially, he was competing well, winning five of eight ground duels, two of three attempted tackles and successfully completing two dribbles. Defensively he made two blocks, a clearance and recovered the ball four times. [FotMob/Opta]

A big complaint of his individual performance and the team’s, in general, will be a lack of attacking urgency. There was no real ambition shown in possession after the first two French goals, inviting further pressure. It was a tough shift.

Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

The Aussie assessment of the match is likely to be ‘take the medicine and move on’ with no real room to mope about a defeat to one of the best sides in the tournament.

Mooy and his teammates take on Tunisia in a must-win encounter on Saturday morning before facing Denmark next Wednesday afternoon. These tests have always been the main event for them.

Tomorrow, it’s Josip Juranovic and Daizen Maeda’s turn to enter the tournament with Croatia and Japan respectively. The very best of luck to them all!

In other news, Celtic supporters show their class again with another incredible fundraising total.