Thu, Jun 14, 8:55am by Head Editor
Date and Time: Saturday June 16, 8pm AEST
Venue: Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia
TV: SBS, Optus Sport
The biggest sporting event on the planet begins on Friday morning (AEST) and Australians don’t have to wait long to see their Socceroos in action, with the green and gold taking on one of the tournament favourites, France, just 36 hours later.
Shockwaves were sent through the football world back in November, when the man who guided the Socceroos through the longest qualifying campaign in the nation’s history, Ange Postecoglou, quit as Socceroos boss just two weeks after the playoff win over Honduras.
Bert van Marwijk was named as Postecoglou’s successor in late January and the man who took his native Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final has made a strong start, coaching the Roos to two wins and a draw from four matches.
The 66-year-old has achieved many things in the world of football but in the hearts and minds of Australians he will be remembered for the results of the next few weeks, as the newly appointed mentor steers the Aussies through their fifth World Cup campaign.
While van Marwijk’s opening four games have been promising, Saturday’s contest against France looms as the biggest challenge yet. The French have a formidable line-up and are considered a near certainty with the boomakers to secure all three points against Australia here.
Didier Deschamps’ charges are in at $1.22 to defeat the Socceroos, who are way out at $13 to take all three points. The draw would also be a great result for the green and gold, at the odds of $6.
Andrew Nabbout is expected to start up front for Australia after scoring his first goal for his country in the 4-0 win over Czech Republic at the start of this month.
Another man who also found the back of the net for the first time in Australian colours this month, Daniel Arzani, is expected to come off the bench, and there will be plenty of eyes on the 19-year-old, who is youngest player at the tournament.
Speaking of 19 year olds, Frenchman Kylian Mbappé injured himself at training on Tuesday which has left big question mark over whether the Paris-Saint Germain superstar will take the pitch on Saturday.
Les Bleus may be going in as heavy favourites here but they were far from their best against the USA in their final friendly on Saturday, when an Mbappe goal cancelled out American Julian Green’s 44th minute strike.
Tim Cahill can join illustrious company if he finds the back of the net ($6.50) in this one. Should the 38-year-old do so, he’ll become just the fourth player in history behind Brazilian legend Pele and German pair Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose to hit the back of the net at four World Cups.
Suggested Bet: Both teams to score at $2.50
Head to Head
Half Time/ Full Time
France / France $1.83
France / Draw $26
France / Australia $151
Draw / France $3.75
Draw / Draw $8
Draw / Australia $26
Australia / France $26
Australia / Draw $31
Australia / Australia $23
Over/ Under 2.5 goals
Both Teams to Score
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