What a ride it was for Australian soccer fans as the Socceroos played out their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Saturday night. A 2-1 loss to France unfortunately means that the Socceroos will have to be impressive in their two remaining group games to advance to the knockout stage. Their next game comes on Thursday night as they take on Denmark and we preview the game in full and give our betting tips below.
If it wasn’t for the newly implemented VAR system in this years World Cup, the Socceroos first game against France could have likely ended in a 0-0 score line, as all three goals scored in the game needed confirmation from the video review system. Regardless of the result, Australia impressed the footballing world with their performance, taking it right up to one of the tournament favourites and at times even outplaying them in their opener.
In the other Group C game, Denmark were 1-0 winners over Peru, meaning that a win over the Danes in Thursday’s game is crucial to the Socceroos chances of progressing. If the Socceroos can beat Denmark and simply hold on for a draw against Peru, then it would likely see them advance as long as France were winners over Denmark as well.
It will be interesting to see whether first choice striker Tom Juric will be available to start in the match. The front man started on the bench in the game against France, meaning A-League star Andrew Nabbout was selected in the starting line-up. However, Juric in line-up gives the Socceroos a true target man who can finish with the ball in the air or on the ground.
19-year-old Daniel Arzani was subbed on in the 84th minute of the game and added some spark for the Socceroos, coach Bert Van Marwijk could opt for Arzani earlier in the contest for forward Robbie Kruse, who is slowly becoming out of favour with the Australian public and manager. Maybe the most interesting decision in the France game was the exclusion of striker Tim Cahill, who started on the bench and wasn’t subbed on late in the game when Australia required a goal to tie the game.
Of the Danish players, there are a few key men to be wary of. Christian Eriksen is one of the elite midfielders of the Premier League and should be a class above anyone on the pitch that isn’t named Tom Rogic. Mile Jedinak will likely get the job running with Eriksen as he did Paul Pogba in the French game, however, forward Yussuf Poulsen also poses a massive threat to the Aussies. His pace on the counter in the Peru game was the difference in the game, and the RB Leipzig player has the potential to have a massive influence against Australia’s defence which lacks serious pace.
The Danes will be without starting midfielder William Kvist for the remainder of the 2018 World Cup, after he suffered fractured ribs in the game against Peru on Sunday morning. Lasse Schone was subbed in for the midfielder and is the likely candidate to take his place in the starting line-up.
The two teams have faced off three times dating back to 2007. Denmark claimed bookending wins at 3-1 and 2-0 score lines while the Austrlians were winners in their 2010 clash by a 1-0 score line. Interestingly, none of Denmark’s last five competitive games have totalled over 2 goals scored, emphasising their defensive brand. Although they can secure their passage to the knockout stage with a win, they’ll likely be quite comfortable with a draw against the Aussies, and should come out of the blocks quite defensive.
In this World Cup, 8 of the 17 games already have held a 0-0 score line at half time as teams are playing extremely tentative, not wanting to force anything early. These two sides are pretty evenly matched and it should be a bit of a chess match early on, much like the France game was.
If you weren’t impressed by Australia’s performance against France on Saturday night, then you obviously weren’t tuned in to see their shaky form during the World Cup qualifiers.
It looked like a completely different side to the one that struggled to get past the likes of Syria and Honduras in the qualifiers, and gave me real faith in their ability to get a result out of this game.
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