Denmark are the next opponents for the Socceroos in Group C.
Having opened their FIFA World Cup™ campaign with a 1-0 win over Peru on Sunday morning, the Danes pose a formidable challenge for Australia.
With both teams searching for an all important win in a bid to make the Round of 16, Thursday night at 10pm AEST is when the two sides face off.
Here's the rundown on our next Group C opponents.
Goalkeepers: Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town), Frederik Ronnow (Brondby), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Defenders: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich Town), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield Town), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Midfielders: Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna), William Kvist (Copenhagen), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo)
Forwards: Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Viktor Fischer (Copenhagen), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig)
A funereal atmosphere hung over Danish football when Norwegian veteran Age Hareide took the reins of the national team in late 2015. The country had just failed to qualify for Euro 2016 at the expense of neighbours Sweden, culminating in the downfall of national hero Morten Olsen's 15-year tenure at the helm.
The parting words of their legacy manager was to forecast a bright future for the Scandinavian nation: an optimistic stance given Olsen's final days as Denmark boss were spent residing over an ageing, stagnating squad that had lost faith in his ideas. Few would have predicted Hareide to re-energise the Danes so efficiently.
Denmark haven't bettered a group stage finish at the tournament since 2002, but are in a strong position to buck that trend under Hareide's guidance, having beaten Peru in their first game.
The 64-year-old enters the tournament as one of Scandinavia's most experienced and successful managers, having won the top flight in Denmark, Sweden and Norway across a managerial career spanning three decades. Under Hareide, Denmark haven’t lost since a shock home defeat to Montengro in October 2016 and have only lost three times in total throughout his 22 matches in charge.
Hareide has successfully fostered a revolution of both the structure and identity of the national side since succeeding Olsen two years ago, trading a preference for possession football for a more aggressive and direct approach.
After persisting with a 3-5-2 formation for a handful of matches when taking the reins of the side back in March 2016, Hareide has consistently assembled the Danish in a 4-2-3-1 ever since - and hasn't lost a game since fielding four at the back.
Christian Eriksen is the crown jewel in this set-up, and the Tottenham Hotspur man is bolstered by seasoned European quality in each area of the field, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney and centre halves Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen all experienced, uncomprimising presences on the pitch.
Although he's played down his importance throughout the build up to the tournament, there's no doubt that Hareide and Denmark's chances at the tournament rest principally on the shoulders of Eriksen.
Almost everything that Denmark do revolves around their orchestrator in chief, who enjoys a central role in between a grafting midfield pivot and a three-pronged frontline. Ugandan-born winger Pione Sisto and RB Leipzig attacker Yussuf Poulsen will look to occupy wide positions in order to afford space to Eriksen in between the lines - as evidenced by Poulsen's winner against Peru on Sunday morning - while also serving as key members of the sides defensive pressing game.
23-year-old Celta Vigo man Sisto could benefit the most should Australia spend too much of their resources neutralising Eriksen. Only four players finished with more assists in La Liga last season than the rapid-paced forward, whose double for former employers Midtjylland sparked a famous Europa League victory over Manchester United in 2016.
The key man
Quite simply, the midfielder from Middlefart is the nation's talisman and the conduit in which the Danish side operates. Eriksen comes into the tournament after another sensational league campaign for Tottenham, and grabbed 11 goals for Denmark throughout the qualification process.
He's also been involved in 13 of the side's last 18 goals.
Eriksen's ability to find teammates in dangerous positions makes him a major concern for Bert van Marwijk's side, while his ability to shoot cleanly with either feet from distance also presents a serious danger for the Socceroos.
Denmark have never scored from outside the box at a FIFA World Cup™ tournament before, but the 26-year-old could be the man to snap that drought in Russia - just hopefully not against Australia.
The form guide
Peru 0-1 Denmark, 17 June 2018
Denmark 2-0 Mexico, 9 June 2018
Sweden 0-0 Denmark, 2 June 2018
Denmark 0-0 Chile, 27 March 2018
Denmark 1-0 Panama, 22 March 2018
How to watch vs the Socceroos
Denmark v Socceroos
Date: Thursday 21 June 2018
Venue: Samara Arena, Samara, Russia
Kick-off: 4pm local (10pm AEST – Thursday, 21 June 2018)
Broadcast: Live in Australia on SBS and Optus Sport
HOW TO WATCH:Tune in LIVE on SBS or stream via The World Game websiteor the 2018 FIFA World Cup app. Click hereto find out how to watch LIVE on Optus Sport on your TV, mobile, table, console or computer.
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