Team-by-team guide: 2022 Australia World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here’s the Australia World Cup preview who’ll play in Group D against France, Denmark and Tunisia.

Australia World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup Appearances: 6th

Best Finish: Round of 16 (2006)

How they got here: Australia was the 31st team to qualify for the World Cup after defeating Peru 5-4 on penalties in the FIFA inter-confederation playoffs. Australia finished third in Group B during Asia World Cup qualifying behind Saudi Arabia and Japan. Australia defeated the United Arab Emirates after group play to qualify for the inter-confederation playoff.

Coach: Graham Arnold (Australian)

Strongest XI: (4-1-4-1) Mathew Ryan; Aziz Behich, Kye Rowles, Bailey Wright, Fran Karacic; Aaron Mooy; Awer Mabil, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Martin Boyle; Mathew Leckie

Injuries: Kye Rowles (Metatarsal fracture), Nathaniel Atkinson (ankle), Adjin Hrustic (ankle)

What’s to like: If Australia ever gets into a penalty shootout situation, they have an absolute goon on deck ready to win the game.

Some talented and young defenders are in the ranks. Rowles performed well in the playoffs for Australia and if he recovers in time for the World Cup he should start. Good luck against Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé.

What’s not to like: Australia is perhaps the biggest underdog at the World Cup. It was a shock that the Socceroos defeated Peru in the playoff. Key injuries to main playmakers like Hrustic make the uphill battle even steeper.

The Aussies also have a scoring problem with only one goal in the five qualifying games against tougher opponents (Japan, Saudi Arabia and Peru).

Denmark and France will be looking at Australia as an easy win. That second game vs. Tunisia is a must-win if there is to be any hope of advancing. 

X-Factor: A player that could provide a spark is Cádiz forward Awer Mabil. He’s a relative newcomer to the national team after switching his nationality in 2018 from South Sudan to Australia.

He’s scored eight goals in 29 caps and scored one of the penalties in the playoff vs. Peru.

Best Hair: Aaron Mooy

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Most likely to fuck it all up: Aaron Mooy is 32 now. He’s not quite the same midfielder from several years ago who helped Huddersfield Town gain promotion to the Premier League and played regularly for Brighton.

He’s had a rough first season with Celtic and has shown some signs of improvement, however he likely won’t fair as well in the midfield against the likes of France and Denmark.

What will make this a good World Cup: Pulling off a miracle and getting to the Round of 16.

Bonus prediction: Australia scores a penalty kick. 

There’s nothing the Socceroos love more than a penalty kick goal at the World Cup. The last time Australia scored a goal from open play at a World Cup was THAT Tim Cahill goal vs. Netherlands. The last three goals on the big stage for Australia were all Mile Jedinak penalties.

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