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Five burning questions for the Socceroos heading into the World Cup

06:59 BST 10/06/2018
Daniel Arzani Bert van Marwijk Mile Jedinak Socceroos
Australia face France on June 16 and Bert van Marwijk has a few big decisions to make

While a 2-1 win over Hungary was the result Australia would've been hoping for, the performance left a lot to be desired with the Socceroos set to face France in their World Cup opener on June 16.

Caught out defensively, muddled in midfield and riding their luck in front of goal, Bert van Marwijk was far from impressed with how the green and gold performed in their final hit out in Budapest.

Fielding an unchanged starting 11 in the search of some consistency, the Socceroos performance has inevitably raised more questions than answers ahead of crunch clash against France.

Goal takes a look at the five biggest questions facing Australia ahead of their World Cup campaign.

1. What role will Mile Jedinak play?

He almost single-handedly secured Australia's spot at the World Cup with a hat trick in a play-off against Honduras, but Mile Jedinak could well find himself on the bench in Russia.

After arriving in camp late due to club commitments with Aston Villa, the Socceroos skipper has been a substitute in Australia's two friendly matches leading up to the tournament. 

Expected to return to the starting line-up against Hungary, Bert van Marwijk preferred to keep his side unchanged and only introduced Jedinak in the second half as he replaced Massimo Luongo in midfield.

To his credit, the 33-year-old barely put a foot wrong during his cameo and arguably anchored the midfield better than Luongo, who looked somewhat anonymous alongside Aaron Mooy.  

Having played at centre back for Villa this past season, Jedinak revealed van Marwijk has had him training as both a defender and midfielder but a move to the back four now looks unlikely.

With France awaiting the Socceroos first up, the captain's experience and leadership could prove crucial and while not offering the mobility of Luongo, Jedinak is a good chance of earning back a starting spot.

His place in the side from then however is far from certain with van Marwijk already showing his lack of sentiment when it comes to the Aussie skipper. 

2. How will Daniel Arzani be deployed?

The youngest player heading to Russia, Arzani took 67 seconds to show what he can do in a Socceroos shirt as he scored as a substitute against Hungary.

Though the long-range effort was lucky to beat the keeper, there was nothing lucky about the brilliant ball Arzani then played to set up Australia's winning goal as he found Jackson Irvine in the final third.

After such a stunning cameo, former Socceroos Paul Okon declared van Marwijk must think about starting the teenager at the World Cup and he wasn't the only one. 

However, after only just breaking through at A-League level, the Melbourne City winger has himself admitted that his fitness still needs work and handing him a start against the likes of France or Denmark could be a recipe for disaster.

As a very pragmatic coach, it's unlikely van Marwijk will start Arzani and instead turn to him to make a telling contribution late in games as he did against Hungary. 

Whether he gets minutes against France will also be dependent on how the game unfolds and the 19-year-old might have to wait to be unleashed against Denmark and Peru. 

Arzani has shown time and again he's capable of stepping up his game when needed and Russia will be the biggest yet for a career that could truly blossom in years to come.

3. Who will lead the Socceroos attack?

With Tomi Juric struck down by a knee injury during camp in Turkey, van Marwijk was forced to recall Jamie Maclaren and has gone on to start Andrew Nabbout as his number nine in both friendlies.

While lacking the physical presence of Juric, Nabbout is able to press effectively and was rewarded for it with his first international goal against Czech Republic.

Brought back into the squad after embarking on a holiday, Maclaren replaced Nabbout against the Czechs but failed to make his mark and didn't see any action against Hungary.

Juric was brought back into the fold against Hungary but lasted just over half an hour before being replaced by Tim Cahill. 

Though his strong hold up play could be crucial against France, Juric looks to still be shaking off his injury, meaning as it stands Nabbout is most likely to lead the line in Kazan. 

Off the bench, it's hard not to see Cahill being given minutes late as he looks to become just the fourth player in history to score in four World Cups. 

4. Can Australia deny France a goal fest?

Based on their performance against Hungary, the Socceroos hopes of a clean sheet in Kazan look next to zero.

Facing a France side that has scored in all but one of their past 14 games, Australia's current back four will truly be up against it on June 16.

In Budapest, Josh Risdon was caught out at right back, Mark Milligan made a number of poor passes that should've resulted in Hungary goals and Trent Sainsbury failed to communicate with Brad Jones as he headed the ball into his own net.

The one shining light is Mat Ryan, who will start in goal after Jones struggled, with the Brighton shot stopper unbeaten in three of his past four appearances for Australia. 

Ryan has improved immensely as a keeper since the last World Cup and is more than capable of limiting the damage against France.

After such a poor defensive display, van Marwijk could well be tempted to alter his back four with Matthew Jurman and Milos Degenek two strong candidates to command a start. 

The Socceroos simply can't afford a heavy defeat against France and they must improve massively upon their most recent defensive display if that's any chance of being avoided.

USA did show what's possible having held the French to a 1-1 draw in their recent friendly - a result that would huge for Australia in Kazan. 

5. Will Denmark and Peru be any easier?

They might not have the same shine as France, but both Denmark and Peru also loom as a huge challenge for the Socceroos.

Ranked 11th and 12th in the world respectively, both will have their sights set firmly on escaping the group and will believe beating Australia is a key way of achieving that.

Denmark enter the World Cup after beating Mexico 2-0 in their final friendly with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen showing his importance to the squad as he grabbed a goal and an assist. 

If the Socceroos can shut him down via the likes of Mile Jedinak or Jackson Irvine in midfield, then Denmark may struggle to break Australia down. 

In a recent friendly against Sweden without Eriksen, they were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw. 

Peru on the other hand, have a number of potential attacking outlets but were similarly held to a 0-0 draw with Sweden in their final match before Russia. 

How Sweden set up against both outfits could prove key for Australia, with the fact Denmark and Peru will feel they need to win against the Socceroos also potentially leaving them more exposed in defence.