Lead by ambitious Ange Postecoglou, the Caltex Socceroos kick off their fourth FIFA Confederations Cup campaign against the reigning world champions Germany in Sochi on Tuesday morning (1am KO, AEST).
4 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. With an eye on next year’s World Cup, Germany have rested a number of big names for this tournament but this youngish group is still high class.
2. Eye-catching PSG playmaker Julian Draxler, Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi and Liverpool's Emre Can are all in the mix to face Australia.
3. Australia warmed up for this tournament with a 3-2 World Cup qualifier win over Saudi Arabia on June 8, and a 4-0 loss to Brazil in a friendly on June 13.
4. Germany got into the groove with a 7-0 World Cup qualifier win over San Marino and a 1-1 result away to Denmark in a friendly.
AUSTRALIAN SQUAD NEWS
- Wingback Brad Smith and skipper Mile Jedinak are both out of the tournament due to injury.
- Norway-based Alex Gersbach and Austria-based James Jeggo are their replacements.
- Keeper Mat Ryan has just signed for EPL newcomers Brighton from his parent club Valencia.
CURRENT WORLD RANKINGS
To open their group at the Confederations Cup, expect a free-flowing game between two attack-minded nations who’ve reinvented their football culture in recent years.
The Socceroos have undergone a complete transformation in style and personnel since Postecoglou took over in last 2013.
The Germans for their part completely rebooted their player development system and approach with a root-and-branch reinvention just over a decade ago, one which resulted in winning the 2014 World Cup.
At that same tournament in Brazil, the Socceroos showed the world a new, bolder approach despite three losses.
Three years later and with a vastly more experienced squad playing in their third major FIFA tournament as a group, the Australians are well placed to give a good account of themselves in Russia this month.
Smith and Jedinak’s injuries are a blow but you sense this could Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy’s time to really show their class on the international stage.
And in Mark Milligan Australia have one of the most underrated talents in Asia.
The UAE-based midfielder may be deployed in central defence or as the six – either way, he’ll be a vital cog.
Joachim Loew’s Germany may’ve taken Australia lightly back in 2015 – a 2-2 friendly draw in Kaiserslautern.
Likewise in 2011 when Australia (coached by German Holger Osieck) defeated Germany 2-1 in Monchengladbach.
In Russia, Loew will not take Australia lightly a third time.