Paul Pogba of Manchester United
Paul Pogba of Manchester United

France explore 'mysterious’ Socceroos

FRANCE'S last clear memory of the Socceroos was a 6-0 win that heralded the end of Holger Osieck's tenure.

Four years on, French outlet Le Monde have declared the green and gold "the most mysterious opponent", especially because, they acknowledged, the Socceroos are without a coach since Ange Postecoglou's departure, and do not know what style his replacement will embrace.

They wrote Postecoglou has emphasised "the need to have the ball possession and to advance the level of global technique. But, his critics criticised the lack of efficiency of this style of play".

The paper's analysis of a country "better known for its rugby team than football" shrewdly observed that Tim Cahill's prominence hints at a "weak point of the team - the absence of a dashing scorer", while dismissed the cavalry in the squad as stars who "play in second-league clubs in major leagues".

Tim Cahill of Melbourne City
Tim Cahill of Melbourne City

After a three decade absence from the biggest show on earth, the Peruvians are eager to prove a point - not just to the Socceroos.

Stung by L'Equipe's headline that "Diego Maradona had a happy hand for the Blues, by placing Peru, the weakest opponent of the dreaded group 2", Jefferson Farfan hit back: "They're always going to talk things like that, because we have not been to a World Cup for a long time, it's time to let us know and show them what Peruvians are made of".

Statistics from Opta over the weekend suggested that Group C was indeed the toughest group, taking in the sum of FIFA rankings, but Peruvian outlet Depor has started to build up their country's underdog status by looking at the transfer values of the Best XIs.

Naturally, Les Bleus come in on top, at €636.50m, while Denmark, headlined by Tottenham star Christian Eriksen, are also north of the century mark, at €172.80m.

While the Socceroos "do not have a star player, but they are a very orderly and complicated team", the Roos, valued at €42.80m exceed Peru's €32.60m total.

Peru's Jefferson Farfan
Peru's Jefferson Farfan

Meanwhile, the Socceroos will no doubt be leaning on some of the intel gleaned by the All Whites, given they were the Incas' last opponents before the World Cup.

Match commentator Jason Pine, who called both legs for New Zealand television, told FNR_Football Nation Radio that "Australia is a really good chance of getting something".

He said: "I think it'll give us here in New Zealand a really good indication of how competitive we were … I think Australia is a really good chance of getting something … I think Australia would back themselves to get something out of the result."

As for what to expect, he explained: "They really pushed their fullbacks nice and high … that was the big change from the first leg when they sat deeper and tried to attack through midfield and further up top … if they continue with that approach, that's something Australia will have to be aware of… they've got some wonderful players in midfield."

Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona holds up the team name of Peru
Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona holds up the team name of Peru

He added: "They do open themselves to the possibility of a counter-attack … often when they get the ball into the centre forward the midfielders and wingers make haste to get forward and support the centre-forward."

Peruvian outlet El Bocon zeroed in on comments from Australian goalkeeper Mitch Langerak given to EFE, quoting him as saying: "Peru and Denmark are not better than Australia, I think our group is a challenge, but it is totally manageable, our team has been extremely strong over these two years and we have never feared any rival."

He added: "Being in the next phase is a realistic goal that we hope to achieve. The quality of the Australian team is very high and we will be very disappointed if we do not progress and move on to the next phase".

El Bocon also took note of analysis on Fox Sports Australia in the wake of the draw, where Craig Moore labelled the Peruvians "the weakest team" and John Kosmina called them "defeatable".

Then, if Peru weren't aggrieved already, they copped this dismissive analysis from Denmark boss Age Hareide.

"The only thing I know about Peru is that we are much taller than them," he said.

"Peru have played the repechage like us and Australia is a team that we do not know much about, but now we will have to get information about them."


Denmark's national football team coach Age Hareide (L)
Denmark's national football team coach Age Hareide (L)

There was more information coming from former Melbourne City keeper and Denmark legend Thomas Sorensen, who told FNR_Football Nation Radio: "I think it's a team on the ascent. The likes of Eriksen has come into his own … Kasper Schmeichel … Simon Kjaer who plays for Seville.

"They've got a good spine. If we can get Bendtner back to his best, he's come along after a few bad years. I think Denmark is a team, where everyone is fit, they should have a good World Cup.

"The two countries are very alike. Not a super power but you live off that collectiveness and togetherness in the group … I think both Australia and Denmark are very much alike."

The early tip for the Socceroos on how to approach the game?

"I think they can potentially be hit at set plays … with Mooy's delivery and big strong players they have. Shut down Eriksen, then hit Denmark on set plays. They've looked vulnerable at times."

Peru team poses for a photo prior to a World Cup play-off qualifying match against New Zealand in Lima, Peru.
Peru team poses for a photo prior to a World Cup play-off qualifying match against New Zealand in Lima, Peru.

Finally, it's been well documented that Australia will stay in Kazan, but Peru will be in Moscow, and France will be in Istra, 50 kilometres from Moscow.

Peruvian outlet Depor reported that the country's delegation of Nestor Bonillo and Antonio Garcya Pye, went from Moscow to Sochi to inspect the venue they will play in against Australia.

The side will, however, be based in Moscow.

"Moscow will be our base, the distance does not exceed 1500 kilometers and, by air, does not exceed two hours of flight," Bonillo said.