After a courageous 2-1 defeat to France in the opening Group C fixture of the FIFA World Cup™, the Socceroos need a win in their next match against Denmark in order to have a realistic shot at the Round of 16.
Thursday night’s (AEST) clash - live on SBS and Optus Sport at 10pm - in Samara is pivotal to both teams chances, and a win could virtually guarantee passage for Denmark after their 1-0 win over Peru.
Check out the word from each side’s opening match, the history, and what any result could mean for Group C.
It was heartbreak for the Socceroos in their opening Group C fixture as they went down 2-1 to France. Goals to Antoine Greizmann and Paul Pogba got Les Bleus over the line, but it was far from a sure thing.
Bert van Marwijk spoke at length before the match about the need to be ‘well-organised and believe in something’, and the Aussies certainly bought into what he was selling with a performance to make the nation proud.
While chances were at a premium for the Socceroos, their defensive mettle meant that the same rang true for France. Desperate defending and a rigid structure meant the likes of Mbappé and Greizmann were seldom able to break through the lines.
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Mile Jedinak, who was rumoured to be on the bench for the France clash stood up went it counted and slotted a penalty which brought Australia level in the 62nd minute.
Mat Ryan and Trent Sainsbury were enormous for the Socceroos, who took a little while to settle after a frantic opening few minutes which saw France have a couple of opportunities.
Meanwhile, Denmark got their FIFA World Cup™ campaign off to the best possible start with a tight 1-0 win over a fast and fluid Peru side.
The key man for Denmark, Christian Eriksen, was kept quiet for much of the match as Peru identified him as a key cog in the Danish engine.
One moment of brilliance from him is all it took though – his run through the middle of the park and ball to Yussuf Poulsen in the 59th minute led to the match’s solitary goal.
Peru managed an incredible 17 shots on goal without finding the back of the net, Denmark’s 4-2-3-1 forced deep for large swathes of the game as it defended on the back foot.
Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel proved his worth in his nation’s opening match as he made six saves, including a fine stop at the feet of Peru’s Jefferson Farfan to ensure Denmark took all three points.
Australia has played Denmark three times (W1, L2), and only for the first time 11 years ago.
Their last match was a 2-0 friendly loss in Copenhagen in 2012. Daniel Agger and Andreas Bjelland scored in that match which was attended by Australia's Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark.
Before that was a 1-0 Socceroos win over South Africa in the lead up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and a 3-1 friendly loss in London in 2007
Despite the Socceroos gallant performance, the reality is that a win against Denmark is almost a must if they are to stake a claim for their spot in the Round of 16.
With the Group C standings finely poised after just one match, defeat for the Socceroos against Denmark would almost certainly cruel their chances of exiting the group.
It would send Denmark an unassailable six points ahead of Australia, who has just the match against Peru the following Wednesday (AEST) to follow.
Victory for Australia on Thursday night would put them level on points with Denmark, and blow the group wide open.
A draw would leave Australia in a precarious position, as victory in their final Group C fixture against Peru would be vital. They’d also be relying on France to beat Denmark in their final group stage match.
France is set to play Peru on Friday morning (AEST) in a match which they are widely expected to win, a further three points which would take Les Bleus to six total.
HOW TO WATCH
The Socceroos second Group C fixture kicks off Thursday, 10pm (AEST). You can catch all the action live on SBS, or on Optus Sport.
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