Australia played 22 games to qualify for the tournament, the most of any nation in history.
Australia World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
Australia vs Denmark (21st June) Match Report
Australia Starting XI: 1 Mat Ryan, 5 Mark Milligan, 7 Matthew Leckie, 10 Robbie Kruse (17 Daniel Arzani 69), 11 Andrew Nabbout (9 Tomi Juric 75), 13 Aaron Mooy, 15 Mile Jedinak, 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Josh Risdon, 20 Trent Sainsbury, 23 Tom Rogic (22 Jackson Irvine 82)
Denmark Starting XI: 1 Kasper Schmeichel, 2 Simon Kjaer, 6 Andreas Christensen, 8 Thomas Delaney, 9 Nicolai Jorgensen (21 Andreas Cornelius 68), 10 Christian Eriksen, 14 Henrik Dalsgaard, 17 Jens Stryger Larsen, 19 Lasse Schone, 20 Yussuf Poulsen (11 Martin Braithwaite 59), 23 Pione Sisto
Denmark 1 Australia 1
Denmark: Eriksen 7
Australia: Jedinak 38pen
Denmark and Australia shared the points in Samara after Mile Jedinak’s controversial penalty cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s early strike for the Danes.
Denmark took the lead with a brilliantly worked team goal but they failed to build on their early advantage and Australia were given the opportunity to equalise following a fortuitous VAR decision.
The equaliser emboldened Australia in the second half but they could not find the winner that their endeavour deserved.
Matter of fact
Mile Jedinak’s successful penalty maintained his 100 per cent record in spot-kick conversion.
Spanish referee Antonio Mateu waived away Australian appeals for a penalty after the ball struck Yussuf Poulsen’s arm at a corner. But VAR suggested he review the decision and a penalty was awarded. It was a harsh decision for Denmark – the leaping Poulsen was only inches away from Matthew Leckie’s header – but Australia felt it compensated for the controversial VAR-awarded penalty that France had been awarded in their opening game.
Possession (%): 48/52
Goal attempts: 10/14
Attempts on target: 5/5
Pass accuracy (%): 86/84
Distance covered (km): 112/114
Australia vs France (16th June)
Australia face a tough task stopping France in their opening match of the World Cup. Match preview here.
Australia Starting XI: 1 Mat Ryan, 5 Mark Milligan, 7 Mathew Leckie, 10 Robbie Kruse (17 Daniel Arzani 83), 11 Andrew Nabbout (9 Tomi Juric 64), 13 Aaron Mooy, 15 Mile Jedinak, 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Josh Risdon, 20 Trent Sainsbury, 23 Tom Rogic (22 Jackson Irvine 72)
France Starting XI: 1 Hugo Lloris, 2 Benjamin Pavard, 4 Raphael Varane, 5 Samuel Umtiti, 6 Paul Pogba, 7 Antoine Griezmann (9 Olivier Giroud 70), 10 Kylian Mbappe, 11 Ousmane Dembele (9 Nabil Fekir 70), 12 Corentin Tolisso (14 Blaise Matuidi 78), 13 N’Golo Kante, 21 Lucas Hernandez
France 2 Australia 1
France: Griezmann 58pen, Behich 82og
Australia: Jedinak 62pen
France, despite their attacking talents, gave a lackustre performance in their opening game. They lacked energy and did just enough to edge past an Australia side who withstood an early flurry of French attacks to settle well in the game. France claimed their victory with the help of video technology: their opening goal was the first to be awarded by the VAR, their second needed goalline technology to confirm the ball had crossed the line.
Matter of fact
Mile Jedinak became the first Australia to captain his country at two World Cups – and to score from the penalty spot at two World Cups.
France’s opening goal was the first to be awarded in the World Cup following consultation with the video referee (VAR). It was a contentious decision, with Australia claiming that Josh Risdon made contact with the ball before he fouled Antoine Griezmann. But referee Andres Cunha, alerted by the VAR, consulted with the pitchside monitor and awarded the penalty.
Possession (%): 51/49
Goal attempts: 12/4
Attempts on target: 4/2
Pass accuracy (%): 87/85
Distance covered (km): 103/111
Australia World Cup Guide
Australia’s torturous path through qualification for the 2018 World Cup encompassed 22 games (the most of any nation in history), 11 different opponents and 250,000 kilometres of travel. They only lost twice, but too many draws meant they missed automatic qualification on goal difference to Saudi Arabia. Four tight play-off games followed, before a fourth consecutive World Cup qualification was secured with a 3-1 home win over Honduras in front of nearly 80,000 in Sydney.
Key Moments in Qualifying
Ange Postecoglou introduces a new back-three system which is unconvincing in a 1-1 draw in Tehran against Iraq.
Australia rack up 44 shots on goal against Thailand, but can only win 2-1. The same night, Saudi Arabia beat Japan 1-0 to consign Australia to the play-offs.
A report appears in Melbourne’s Herald Sun claiming Postecoglou will quit after the play-offs, whether the team qualifies or not. Postecoglou refuses to confirm or deny the story.
Australia beat Honduras 3-0 on aggregate to book their place in Russia, but Postecoglou quits his post a week later.
Australia World Cup Group
Australia World Cup Friendlies
On the 23rd of March Australia travelled to Norway to lose 4-1, then drew to Colombia four days later. A 4-0 victory against the Czech Republic followed and their final game was against Hungary which they won 2-1.
- 23rd March – Norway (lost 4-1)
- 27th March – Colombia (drew 0-0)
- 1st June – Czech Republic (won 4-0)
- 9th June – Hungary (won 2-1)
Australia World Cup Fixtures
Bert van Marwijk, age 65, (19.05.1952)
Ange Postecoglou quit in November despite leading the team to Asian Cup success in 2015 and the World Cup Finals. “This has been a very tough decision for me,” he said of his decision to stand down. “All this has taken a toll on me both personally and professionally. I have invested all I can knowing how important a period it was for Australian football.” Postecoglou, who won four national league titles as a coach and two as a player, is expected to return to club football. Former Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has been announced as the new head coach. The Dutchman offers experience to the role, his crowning achievement getting the Netherlands to the World Cup Final in 2010.
Aaron Mooy is regarded as the best of the new generation. However, he had a big fallout with Postecoglou after being left on the bench for the second leg of the Syria tie.
Mile Jedinak again proved his worth upon his return from a long injury lay-off against Honduras, hitting a hat-trick in the second leg.
Tim Cahill, now 38, put a question mark against his participation in a fourth consecutive World Cup by claiming he needs “more game time” with Melbourne City if he is to make Russia. Even at 38, he is still a vital cog.
Matt Jurman made his senior bow on the left side of the back three in the away leg of the AFC play-off against Syria and looked very much at home.
Australia World Cup Squad
Final 23-man squad –
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk).
DEFENDERS: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).
MIDFIELDERS: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall).
FORWARDS: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian).
Australia World Cup Injuries
We will update you with injuries regularly.
The Unanswered Questions
Who will score the goals?
Australia create a lot of chances but don’t convert enough. Tomi Juric has done a reasonable job, while Jamie Maclaren could be a contender.
Will the back three be discarded?
The new system leaked goals initially, although the return of Mile Jedinak helped provide more security. It’s a risky tactic against the top teams in the world, although strangely it worked best in the Confederations Cup against the South American champions, Chile.
Will Tom Rogic be able to justify his reputation in Russia?
Alongside Aaron Mooy, Rogic is Australia’s most gifted performer, but he has been inconsistent for his country.
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