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.
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.