Let’s hope Socceroos fans are glass half full people.
In one week Australia begins its World Cup against the reigning world champions France, who also have the world’s best player leading their attack.
France star Karim Benzema comes into the tournament as the Ballon d’Or winner – the highest individual honour in men’s football.
Benzema is only the second player outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award since 2007.
But just how fit the Real Madrid star will be depends on how positive you’re feeling as an Australian. He’s either resting himself to tear Australia apart, or struggling to regain his form of last season.
The 34-year-old has missed the past six games for Real Madrid with muscle fatigue, but his club boss Carlo Ancelotti has angrily rejected claims he was resting himself for the World Cup.
He called claims the star was resting himself to be 100 per cent for the World Cup as “stupid”.
”What bothers me is that Karim hasn’t been able to help the team in these games with his quality,” Ancelotti said before Real Madrid’s final game before the World Cup break.
“He’s tried, but he hasn’t been able to come back with this discomfort. It isn’t much. He’s tried to be available and he hasn’t been able to.
“He is the first one who is frustrated with the situation, as he is entering the World Cup without the minutes he would have needed to be in better condition.
“He’s going into playing a World Cup without the minutes he needs to be in good condition. He’s had a problem, it isn’t serious, he’s been working individually but his feeling to play a game hasn’t been good. Karim himself is the most disappointed, because he’s going to play a World Cup, as Ballon d’Or winner, without many minutes in his legs.”
He called claims Benzema was trying to protect himself for the World Cup as “stupid”.
Not that Benzema missing the opening game makes things any easier for the Socceroos, with France also boasting $246 million star Kylian Mbappe.
Not that the Socceroos are too worried yet.
“We always dream of playing against these guys, watching the Champions League and watching the European leagues. You know, always wondering how it would be to come up against them and to have the opportunity now, I‘m just excited to see what will happen,” Socceroos defender Thomas Deng said.
“It‘s going be a tough game playing the defending champions, but for us, as long as we focus on what we do best and we have full confidence in ourselves and we believe in our game plan, I think anything’s possible.”
Socceroos striker Mitch Duke added: “I‘m a true blue Aussie. I feel like the Aussie mentality is that not back down mentality. That we can beat anyone on our day and not to be scared.
“It doesn’t matter who they are. They’re 11 players against 11 players and that’s the mentality I think we got to have and not get starstruck.”
Australia will go into the World Cup with an experienced defence, with Kye Rowles (3 caps) and Harry Souttar (10 caps) expected to start against France.
Souttar comes into the World Cup after just returning from a serious knee injury, while Rowles also comes into Qatar without much football this season.
Socceroos legend Harry Kewell told SBS the inexperienced defence could cause issues in Qatar.
“I’ll be honest and I’ll say that I think that’s one of the areas that I feel we won’t be weak, but I think it’s just that the connection that we have that I don’t think the players have played long enough together or been around each other long enough,” he said.
“Even if I go back to my time, when I played in the Australian team, we had centre-halves coming in and we had, maybe one was leaving and the other one was coming in.
“Craig Moore and Lucas Neil, they were a pairing, they were a connection, they read each other well, they worked together well and this is what I need to be able to see with these centre-halves.
Australia plays France at 6am AEDT next Wednesday.
Story Credit: news.com.au