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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Australia must win or its Russia 2018 dream will be over tonight

The South Americans have brought with them to Russia a huge contingent of fans. It is their first World Cup in 36 years. Make no mistake, they are absolutely devastated to have lost their first two games and be out of the running for a spot in the round of 16, especially considering they have played well in both of their games.
They will play like demons against Australia tonight, without the pressure of needing a result.
This will be the first time in the tournament the Socceroos will not have the greater crowd support.
The Australian fans have been brilliant, outnumbering and out-singing their French and Danish counterparts, but Peru supporters will drown them out tonight.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying the Socceroos are in for a battle in Sochi, where they must beat Peru to have a chance of continuing their World Cup journey.
Lose or draw and they are out. If Denmark wins or draws the other Group C game with France, the Socceroos are also out, regardless of their result.
The good news is, the Socceroos have done well in their first two games, even if it has only earned them a single point.
They were unlucky to lose against France and unlucky to not beat Denmark … if you consider it unlucky to be punished for a few defensive lapses and not be able to find the back of the net from open play.
But they did compete strongly against two teams with superior talent.
The Peru match is must-win though, so things need to change.

Van Marwijk has bluntly refused to answer any questions about his starting XI through the week, but in my view he will start Tomi Juric up top. He is a natural target man and would give the wingers Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse something to aim at.
Arzani is not likely to start, but he may be introduced much earlier in the second half for Kruse, especially if Australia is chasing the game.
And Massimo Luongo could finally see some game time, though it's hard to figure out where. Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak have been excellent at the base of midfield, and Tom Rogic has looked the man most likely to create a goal when the ball gets to him.
If the situation becomes desperate, it may be Jedinak who is sacrificed — or Van Marwijk could use Luongo instead of Jackson Irvine to replace Rogic, as he has been doing around the 70-minute mark.
As for the player everyone wants to see, Tim Cahill should get game time. A clever way to do it could be to use him from the start and let him scrap for as long as he can before replacing him with Juric, even if that is at half time or even earlier.
More conservatively, he would be Juric's replacement late in the game, with instructions to do something heroic.