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2018 World Cup team preview: Australia

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Getting to know Australia: The Socceroos will bring plenty of fans and excitement to the World Cup tournament, as always, and they will be aiming to reach the knockout rounds for just the second time in their history. Since they made their World Cup debut in 2006 they’ve been ever present.

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Yet Australia’s status as an emerging force in world soccer has taken a bit of a hit recently as they struggled to qualify for this tournament as they edged by Syria in their AFC playoff, then Honduras in the intercontinental playoff. Still, they made it and you can expect to hear plenty of chants of “Aussie, aussie, aussie! Oi, oi, oi!” across Russia. For more on Australia’s history, click this link.

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What group are they in? Group C with France, Peru and Denmark. Yet again, a really tough group for Australia to navigate. But if they can frustrate France and get a point from their opening game then their second group game against Denmark basically becomes a knockout encounter.


Game schedule – Group C – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Saturday, June 16: France v Australia, Kazan 6am, ET
Thursday, June 21: Denmark v Australia, Samara 8am, ET
Tuesday, June 26: Australia v Peru, Sochi 10am, ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Ryan —–

— Risdon — Milligan — Sainsbury — Behich —-

—- Mooy —- Jedinak —-

—- Leckie —- Rogic —- Kruse —–

—– Juric —–


Star player: Aaron Mooy – The Huddersfield Town midfielder makes the Socceroos tick and they will give him the ball as much as possible in central midfield. Mooy had a superb season for Huddersfield and was one of the main reasons they stayed up in the Premier League. Australia will look to give him the ball and get him involved in set piece situations wherever possible.


Manager: Bert van Marwijk – After leading Saudi Arabia to World Cup qualification rather comfortably, the Dutch coach parted company. It didn’t take him long to land with another Asian Confederation (AFC) powerhouse as Australia’s coach Ange Postecoglou walked out after guiding the Socceroos through two playoffs to make the 2018 World Cup. Van Marwijk is a good man manager and will set this team up to be tough to beat defensively and hit teams on the counter and from set piece situations. That suits this group of players extremely well as their former coach Postecoglou was lambasted for that style of play but, after all, it got them to the World Cup. Van Marwijk is only in charge of Australia until the end of this World Cup as Graham Arnold will then take over.


Secret weapon: Tim Cahill – It is no secret that Cahill is still lurking around but he is such a great player to have on the bench in a tight game or if you need a goal late in the game. Cahill has played at the past three World Cups for Australia (scoring in all three) and his goals were crucial in qualifying, even at the age of 38. You can just see Cahill jumping off the bench late on against Peru to score a header which could take Australia into the Round of 16. Surely Cahill’s legend has one more chapter before he calls it quits…

p.s. keep an eye on Daniel Arzani, just 19, who is the youngster player at the World Cup and is a talented playmaker for Melbourne City.

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Prediction: Getting out of this group will be tough for the Socceroos but they always seem to do better than we expect. Yet again they’ve been handed a tough group but you get the sense it will go down to the wire to make the last 16. It seems like Denmark will have a little too much for them and Australia will probably bow out at the group stage for the third-straight World Cup.

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]