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When Australia takes the pitch against France on Saturday it will mark the fifth time the Socceroos have competed in the world’s biggest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup, and the fourth time in a row.
Just has been the case in the majority of their World Cup games, the green and gold are set to go in as massive underdogs, with $ 14 AUD on offer for Australia to take the three points against one of the tournament favourites, France, who are in at $ 1.22 on the World Cup betting lines according to AustralianGambling.
A draw stands at $ 6.50, which would be a great result for Australia, and with friendly wins over Czech Republic and Hungary in the last two weeks, a point is not out of the question.
There are plenty of question marks surrounding the starting XI, with Bert van Marwijk and his staff pondering several positions, including who will start up front, which sees Andrew Nabbout as the front-runner.
2018 will be a year that the 25-year-old will never forget, the Melbourne-native secured a move from A-League club Newcastle Jets to Japanese giant Urawa Red Diamonds in March which signified just how far the talented forward has come.
Nabbout scored his first goal in Australian colours on June 1, when the Socceroos secured a 4-0 win over Czech Republic, while his teammate Daniel Arzani netted his first international goal a week later, when Australia beat Hungary 2-1.
At 19 years of age, Arzani is the youngest player at the World Cup, and if his form from the Hungary game is anything to go by, then the Melbourne City midfielder is set to have an impact on football’s biggest stage.
The captain’s armband is also a talking point, with Trent Sainsbury a chance to be given the honour ahead of the man who steered Australia to the 2015 Asian Cup triumph, Mile Jedinak.
Sainsbury has never played in a World Cup match after his chances of playing in Brazil four years ago were ultimately ended by a knee injury suffered playing for Dutch side PEC Zwolle.
Australia are basing themselves at Kazan’s Trudovye Rezervy Stadium, home to Russian ice hockey champions Ak Bars Kazan, and hope that the live-in venue, complete with elite medical and recovery facilities, can be an advantage.
One thing which is an advantage ahead of Saturday’s match is that the Aussies will need to take only a 15-minute bus trip across town to Kazan Arena, while Les Bleus will need to fly in from their base in Moscow.
Australia round out their group stage fixtures with matches against Denmark on June 21 in nearby Samara and Peru on June 26 in Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium. The Socceroos are $ 5 and $ 3.60 outsiders, respectively, in those matches on the World Cup game lines.
France are on the fourth line of betting to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy on July 15, at a price of $ 7.50, behind Brazil at $ 5, current holders Germany ($ 6) and 2010 winners Spain ($ 7). Argentina ($ 10), Belgium ($ 11) and England ($ 17) have also been well backed.
Australia are way down on the 26th line of betting at $ 326 behind Group C opponents Peru ($ 151) and Denmark ($ 81).