We’ve been waiting for four years, but every football fan’s favourite event is now just a couple of days away.
The tournament kicks off early Friday morning with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia, before the Socceroos open their campaign against one of the Cup’s favourites, France, on Saturday night.
Australia finished their preparations with a 2-1 victory over Hungary on Sunday, but they will have to improve on that performance if they are to test a talented French side.
Coach Bert van Marwijk has a lot to think about heading into the clash and he’ll need to ensure the Socceroos defence is prepared for a tough outing.
With the French likely to control possession and spend much of the contest on the attack, Australia will not get too many opportunities in front of goal. That means the Socceroos strikers will need to make the most of the few chances they do get.
Daniel Arzani showed the kind of role he’ll likely play during the World Cup when he came on and scored against Hungary. He has the ability to come off the bench and change the game, so if Australia can get through the early stages of their matches, he could be a key player throughout the tournament.
While the tournament starts off with a big challenge against the French, Australia’s chances of progressing past the group stage are shaping up pretty well.
France struggled against the USA, drawing 1-1, and it can be advantageous to get the top teams early in a major tournament, before they are able to find their groove come the business end.
Even if Australia does fall to France, if they’re able to minimise the goal differential damage, I fancy their chances against Denmark and Peru.
However, they can’t suffer a repeat of 2010, when their tournament was effectively over after a 4-nil opening game defeat to Germany. It’s very important the Australians stay tight and aim for a result, but if they can’t achieve that, they need to make sure it’s a tight contest.
Overall, France are a side that can contest for what I think will be a very open World Cup. Brazil is another standout, but there are a number of teams who can win the title.
Germany enter as defending champions but are a bit of an unknown after their loss to Austria last week. However, they are a team who knows how to compete on the world stage and if they can hit their straps they will have a chance of winning back-to-back titles.
- Wolves chances bolstered
The Wolves take on Sutherland on Sunday at Albert Butler Park and we’re looking forward to building on Saturday’s performance, especially with Luke Wilkshire and Yuzo Tashiro returning to the side.