The Socceroos head into their final World Cup group stage match against Peru on Tuesday night knowing that anything less than a win spells the end of their Russian dream.
Australia’s hopes hang on by a thread after grabbing a point in a 1-1 draw against Denmark. The only way Bert van Marwijk’s men can make it out of the group is by downing Peru and then hoping France beat Denmark. With chances of progressing out of Australian hands, the side needs to go all out and give supporters something to be proud of, in case this match is the end of the road.
One positive is knowing that their opponents in Peru have already been eliminated after losing out 1-0 to France, with the South American side now only playing for pride. However, Ricardo Gareca’s men will still be no pushover and will be desperate to leave their first World Cup since 1982 with at least one goal to their name, so Australia will have to be at their best to grab all three points.
Key Battle – Tomi Juric vs Christian Ramos
Australia’s biggest issue at the cup so far has been the lack of goals scored from open play – with both so far coming from handballs in the box. With Andrew Nabbout likely to miss the clash against Peru, Australia will need to rely on Tomi Juric to provide a great attacking option up front and someone who can take chances. Juric has been largely unimpressive as a substitute so far in Russia, but the former Western Sydney Wanderer can still provide huge moments in matches – most notably when he set up James Troisi’s winner in the 2015 Asian Cup final. A great performance from Juric is required if Australia want any hope of making the next round.
However, Juric will be up against it when he takes on the Peruvian defence, most notably their centre-back Christian Ramos, who has been a key part of Peru’s campaign to date. The Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz defender has been a key part of the national team defence since 2009 and can even prove a threat up front, netting Peru’s second goal against New Zealand in the playoffs last year. Ramos will be a huge challenge for Juric and Australia to take on, and one they must win if they want to grab a result.
Despite running an unchanged lineup against France and Denmark, van Marwijk will be forced to make a change to the Socceroos XI for the clash against Peru, with Nabbout picking up a shoulder injury in the 1-1 draw against Denmark. However, it seems likely that Juric will start in place of Nabbout, with the FC Luzern forward running on as a substitute in the previous two matches.
Peru could be without Lokomotiv Moscow forward Jefferson Farfán after he was sent to the hospital after colliding with a teammate in training, although reports from the camp suggest he might be fit in time for the clash.
Australia expected XI: Ryan (GK); Risdon, Sainsbury, Milligan, Behich, Jedinak, Mooy, Kruse, Rogic, Leckie, Juric
Australia has never faced Peru in football before and this crucial match will be the first time these two sides have met.
The Socceroos have been fantastic at the World Cup to date, but their struggles up front have been a crucial element as to why Australia is now in a do-or-die scenario. They need to step up and take their chances, as a big result will only put the pressure on Denmark to grab something against France and even if they do, Australia will be able to go out on a high note.
Australia 2 Peru 0