The Socceroos will take to the field at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in less than a month and Australia will be hoping their team can make it out of the group stage for the first time since 2006.
The men in green and gold have a tough draw this time out in Group D, facing off against Tunisia, Denmark and a blockbuster opening game against defending champions France.
Both Denmark and France were in Australia’s group for the last FIFA World Cup in 2018, and back then, the Socceroos managed a 1-1 draw with the Danes and a 2-1 loss to eventual winner France. The Soccerroos may need to do better than that this year if they want any chance of winning the huge $42 million jackpot for lifting the trophy.
So, how will the Socceroos squad fare come kick-off in Qatar? Read on as DMARGE breaks down all the Socceroos’ opponents and the predicted results for each game.
- November 23
- 6.00 a.m. kick-off AEST
The Socceroos couldn’t have been dealt a much worse hand for their opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They play current champions France, who look to be the first country since Brazil – in 1958 and 1962 – to win back-to-back World Cups.
When the pair squared off in the group stages in 2018, the Socceroos were massive underdogs, but still put on a good showing. An Antoine Griezmann penalty put France ahead, before the Socceroos got a penalty of their own, which captain Mile Jedinak converted from the spot. The game looked to be finishing a draw, before an Australian own goal broke Aussie fans’ hearts.
The Socceroos will be underdogs again, especially with superstar Kylian Mbappé and 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema likely starting for France. The Australian defence will need to be watertight to keep the French forwards at bay.
However, France are also guilty of letting in their fair share of goals, and with star defender Rafael Varane potentially side-lined for the first game, France’s defence could be even more vulnerable this year. The likes of Jason Cummings, Jamie Maclaren and Adam Taggart – if picked – will be looking to exploit this potential defence weakness.
There are also other saving graces for Australian fans. Firstly, France are by no means surging going into the tournament; of the eight games they played in 2022, they have only won three, having lost three and drawn the other two.
Also, when looking back at the performances of previous World Cup winners in the tournament after they were victorious, it often ends badly. Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018 all crashed out in the group stages, despite winning the prior tournaments.
Will history repeat itself and see Australia beating France at the get-go? It is still unlikely, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for this one.
Predicted Result: 2-1 France
- November 26
- 9.00 p.m. kick-off AEST
In their second game of the World Cup, the Socceroos face off against Tunisia.
The Tunisians have enjoyed decent results heading into the tournament. In 2022, they were victorious in the Kirin Cup Soccer, beating Japan and Chile to lift the trophy. Last year they also reached both the final of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup held in Qatar– eventually losing to Algeria 2-0 – and the quarter finals of the 2021 African Cup of Nations.
However, they were just thumped 5-1 off of World Cup favourites Brazil, which may knock their confidence a little heading into the tournament.
Despite what this result suggests, where Tunisia shine is with their defence. Behind defence talisman and Serie A centre-back Dylan Bronn, the Tunisians kept seven clean sheets in 2022. As such, Australia will have to be clinical in attack and take what little chances they are given if they are to succeed in this game.
The 2022 World Cup may also be the coming-out party for young Tunisian Manchester United attacking midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, as he looks to make his stamp on the world stage. Trent Salisbury, Miloš Degenek and other Socceroos defenders will look to lock him down to stop any Tunisian chances at the other end.
Realistically, this is the game the Australian’s have the best chance of winning, and if the Socceroos are able to score early, they may be able to hold off Tunisia’s weaker attack for the rest of the game.
Predicted result: 1-0 Australia
- December 1
- 2.00 a.m. kick-off AEST
Denmark are another team that the Socceroos played in the 2018 World Cup. A Christian Eriksen thunderbolt and Mile Jedinak penalty saw the teams draw the game one apiece.
The Danes have looked pretty strong in 2022, beating France twice, but dropping games to both Croatia and the Netherlands. A semi-final run in the 2020 European Football Championship last year also showed what they are capable of.
They have a sturdy backline led by Barcelona centre-back Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjaer and high flying full-back Joakim Mæhle, which makes them dangerous on the counter. A healthy Christian Eriksen is also a scare for the Socceroos and might be what Denmark need to take them further in this year’s tournament.
The Danes may end up being Australia’s hardest game, and the Socceroos will need to be at their absolute best to have any chance of beating them. It could be a long night for Australian captain and goalkeeper Matt Ryan if they are not.
The Matildas were able to do it in a recent friendly, now its time for the Socceroos to do the same.
Predicted result: 2-0 Denmark