Denmark v Australia: Socceroos confident of reaching last 16
Tomi Juric and Australia are still confident of progressing to the knockout stages of the World Cup in Russia after the Socceroos almost shocked France on matchday one.
Bert van Marwijk's players were unfortunate to step off the field emptyhanded in Kazan, where Australia were beaten 2-1 by an underwhelming France side in Group C last week.
VAR came to the aid of Les Bleus in controversial circumstances as Antoine Griezmann converted a second-half penalty following a challenge from Josh Risdon, while goal-line technology sealed Australia's fate after an impressive performance against the World Cup contenders.
Australia showed they can match it with the best as they prepare to face Denmark in Samara on Thursday and striker Juric remains optimistic about the Socceroos' chances of advancing.
"I think [assistant coach and former AC Milan midfielder] Mark van Bommel got a text message from one of his former team-mates, Thiago Silva, complimenting us on how well we played against a top opposition," said Juric, who started on the bench last time out having struggled with a knee problem heading into the World Cup.
"Everything is still up in the air and up for grabs and I am very positive about our chances of progressing through this group."
All 23 players on the field
One more session before Samara
Brazil veteran sharing praise for our performance vs France
— Socceroos (@Socceroos) June 18, 2018
Depending on the result from France's match against Peru, Denmark could seal their place in the last 16.
Denmark were far from convincing but managed to walk away with a 1-0 win over Peru, who ended their 36-year absence from the World Cup.
A counter-attack and Yussuf Poulsen's swift finish gave Denmark all three points after Peru missed a first-half penalty, while the entertaining South Americans enjoyed countless opportunities against the Danes.
While it was an underwhelming performance, Denmark star Christian Eriksen said: "It was nice to see that we can actually win even though it wasn't great to look at."
Denmark will be without midfielder William Kvist for the remainder of the World Cup after he sustained fractured ribs in the victory against Peru.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Denmark – Yussuf Poulsen
All eyes will be on Christian Eriksen but keep a look out for Yussuf Poulsen, too. After giving away a penalty which Christian Cueva skied over the bar, the RB Leipzig star proved the difference against Peru. His pace and precision on the counter could again be telling against a Socceroos side desperate for maximum points.
Australia – Mathew Leckie
The Socceroos have struggled to find a regular goalscoring threat, while some of the service from the wide positions against France was not at the standard required. However, Australia and Hertha Berlin attacker Mathew Leckie could be the key to unlocking their passage to the next round. With his quickness and stamina, expect the Australian star to enjoy plenty of the ball as the team moves slightly away from their compact approach against the French.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Australia have lost seven of their nine World Cup encounters against European opposition (W1 D1), their only win coming against Serbia in 2010 (2-1).
- Australia have lost each of their last four World Cup matches, conceding at least two goals in each game.
- Christian Eriksen has had a hand in 17 goals in his last 14 appearances for Denmark (12 goals, five assists).
- All 28 of Denmark's World Cup goals have come from inside the box.