Who are the Socceroos’ rivals ahead of the World Cup?

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    The draw has been completed for the 2018 World Cup and thus the analysis of our opponents commences.

    With the World Cup still 190 days away, we have more than enough time to study our opponents in depth.

    We weren’t handed the ‘group of death’, yet our group is deceivingly tough. It was always going to be tough against whichever team came from pot 1, but it isn’t very comforting to pull the third-favourite to take out the competition.

    The French are a somewhat terrifying prospect with the amount of talent the side possesses. They have one of the best goalkeepers in the world between the sticks with Tottenham Hotspurs custodian Hugo Lloris.

    The line in front of Lloris seems to be France’s ‘weakest link’ but when your two centre backs – Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti – play for Real Madrid and Barcelona you’re really just clutching at straws.

    But from here on life really becomes tough. Why does life need to be so unfair? Why are the French so spoilt for choice?

    (Photo: Matt King/Getty Images)

    Paul Pogba. N’Golo Kante. Tiemoue Bakayoko. Blaise Matuidi. Corentin Tolisso.

    It’s arguably the strongest midfield in world football. There isn’t need for much more discussion on this.

    It doesn’t get easier for the Socceroos and Trent Sainsbury’s fellow defenders when you see who is leading Les Bleus attacking stocks.

    Antoine Griezman and Kylian Mbappe are the two biggest names, but you can’t leave out or look beyond Alex Lacazette, Nabil Fekir, Ousmane Dembele or Oliver Giroud. Didier Deschamps will have a headache selecting his final 23-man squad even with the liberty of consistently leaving out Real Madrid star striker Karim Benzema.

    In terms of results, France had a quite comfortable qualifying run despite a mini stumble toward the end when they drew with world footballing minnows Luxemburg. It seems this team full of stars is beatable, though, with Sweden defeating them in their World Cup qualifier back in June.

    (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    We were all praying we wouldn’t draw Spain from pot 2, while we all secretly wanted the English. We got neither and instead got the best possible scenario in South Americans Peru, who return to the World Cup after a 36-year absence.

    The Peruvians were a virtual unknown to most Aussie fans – and they still are – but the continental playoff against our neighbours New Zealand gave most of us our first glance. They weren’t overly convincing against the All Whites but got the job done over the two-legged playoff.

    They got to that game after finishing fifth in a tough South American qualifying campaign. They finished ahead of continental champions Chile and World Cup regulars Ecuador and Paraguay, proving they won’t be just making up the numbers in Russia.

    Their squad is made up mostly of domestic-based and other little-known players. Jefferson Farfan and Paolo Guerrero, both 33 years of age, are Peru’s best-known players and they lead Los Incas from the front.

    Geurrero, Peru’s all-time leading scorer, missed the playoff matches after failing a doping test and could be faced with a ban that could see him miss the World Cup.

    Christian Cueva and youngster Renato Tapia will anchor the middle of the park and are two to watch for from this team.

    (Photo: Cameron J Spencer/Getty Images)

    Pot 3 was not as kind to Australia as the previous, with Brazilian legend Cafu drawing Denmark to Group C. Denmark doesn’t seem a daunting opposition when compared to France, Germany and Brazil, but they’ll be much tougher than first thought.

    The Danes sprinted down the finishing straight to consolidate second place in their group behind Poland, securing a playoff against Ireland. Ireland conceded only six goals in their whole qualifying campaign but crumbled against the Danish attack, losing 5-1 in Dublin.

    It’s hard to look beyond Tottenham superstar Christian Eriksen, who scored a remarkable hat-trick in that game from midfield. His silky passing, devastating set pieces and finishing ability make him the leader of this outfit.

    Kasper Schmiechel, son of Manchester United legend Peter, stands in goal and is one of the best goalkeepers in the English Premier League.

    The Danes have some exciting youngsters coming through as well, with Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen being one of them, along with Viktor Fischer, Kasper Dolberg and Yussuf Poulsen in attack. Add to that the rejuvenated ‘Lord’ Nicklas Bendtner up front and you can see that this Danish team won’t be rollovers.

    Age Hareide, the experienced Danish coach, has his side playing very well disciplined and organised football. With the vast number of talented players Hareide has in his squad, the Socceroos will need to be up for a tough battle on 21 June in Samara in a match that could either make or break our hopes of progression to the knockout rounds.

    So the question remains: is this a group we can progress from? Of course we can, but there is a high chance we will start on the back foot with our first game against the French.

    Playing catch up isn’t easy, but Aussies love a battle and this will be the perfect opportunity to show exactly where we are at.