Newcastle football fans have plenty of reason to cheer on the Socceroos at the World Cup – with Dimi Petratos in the squad, and former fan favourite Andrew Nabbout set to lead the line in Russia!
Here’s JR the Sports Guy’s look at what Australia is up against in their three group games.
FRANCE (Saturday June 16, 8pm)
World ranking: 7
Key player: Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba… the list goes on!
Where do you start with Les Bleus? The last time they played Australia it was a 6 nil flogging that cost the coach his job, and if the French are firing, things could end up a similar way in Kazan. It’s a new defensive structure for the Socceroos, that had a few sketchy moments in the win over Hungary… but long time followers of the national side will be happier to see four defenders, rather than three at the back. France did stutter in their last warm up match (1-1) against a second string USA side, and can barely name a Socceroos player off the top of their head, but I think they’ll be ready to punish any defensive slip ups from the Aussies.
Prediction: 3-0 France.
DENMARK (Thursday June 21, 10pm)
World ranking: 12
Key player: Christian Eriksen
These guys absolutely cut Ireland apart to qualify for the World Cup earlier this year – and are unbeaten in four friendlies since that triumph. A lot relies on Spurs star Christian Eriksen in midfield, but with players in the top leagues throughout Europe, their squad shouldn’t be underestimated. I think the Socceroos will need their best game of the group in this match, as an upset win would set them up for a shot at getting out of the group stage.
Prediction: 3-1 Denmark.
PERU (Wednesday June 27, midnight)
World ranking: 11
Key player: Paolo Guerrero
In the lead up to the world cup, Mile Jedinak actually helped get their captain off a drug ban with a glowing character reference! That said, don’t expect any favours from the South Americans in Sochi. Being the final game of the group, I predict this will be a much more expansive game for both sides, as they either fight for a win, or look to express themselves in their last match of the tournament. Peru’s pace on the counter attack is a real danger for the Aussies… but the South Americans can be fragile at the back, shown by the Kiwis getting some golden chances against them in their intercontentinal qualifier.
Prediction: 2-2 draw