French won’t sell Socceroos short in Danish duel, insists van Marwijk

Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk has dismissed concerns that a laissez-faire France might drop the guillotine on Australia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup survival hopes.

Bert van Marwijk

Ex-socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk Source: Getty Images

The Socceroos are relying on Les Bleus to win their final Group C match against Denmark on Tuesday, while simultaneously taking three points against Peru in Sochi to keep their Russia 2018 voyage on the tracks.

Anything less from the group leaders will be terminal for Australia, who have a single point to Denmark’s four after their 1-1 draw in Samara.

A draw between Didier Deschamps’ men and the Danes would send both through to the knockout stages, with the suspicion that neither has sufficient motivation to go for the jugular.

But van Marwijk has faith in the French, who are likely to face Argentina should they top the group, insisting: “The players of France also have their own pride.

“They have won twice (against Australia and Peru) but they didn’t play well, and they want to prove to the whole world they are one of the best teams.

“I believe they will do their utmost to show that.”

Despite Australia needing to score at least once without reply to fulfill their obligations against the pointless Peruvians, van Marwijk won’t deviate from a well rehearsed game plan focused more on solidity and defensive structure than carefree attacking abandon.

The approach has been drummed into his players and they won’t be ripping up the playbook now.

“It’s very important in all the games that you are yourself,” he said.

“I think against this opponent it’s even more so. I told them just at a meeting ...the way we play and the way we want to play.

“The opponent is an emotional team so you can expect everything. We have to trust our way of playing.

“I think that's the key so there is nothing to do with forcing some things ... only in the second half, and it depends on how the situation is.

“You must have the body language and confidence and be 100 per cent concentrated.”

Whilst steadfastly giving nothing away on his possible selection permutations, the Dutchman is poised to replace injured striker Andrew Nabbout with Tomi Juric, leaving the Tim Cahill lobby frustrated once again as he refuses to pander to the gallery.

Other than that enforced change, he’s unlikely to tinker ahead of the do-or-die contest.

While goals from open play have become a rarity, he believes Australia will have enough guile to overcome Peru.

“I have confidence in all my players,” he said when asked if he bad full belief in his strikers.

“The only thing that you know, and they know, is the last step.

“We have to reward outselves for the work we do and the way we play, what we showed the world.”

He rightfully proud of a side which has earned plaudits from the likes of Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio for the quality of their performances.

“If you can organise a good team you don't always need the best players,” he explained.

“We proved if you work hard and work and believe in something and work always on details and the way you want to play, and you repeat that everyday, then you see that.

“Everybody is talking about it. We can reach a level. I told you before France when a country like Australia plays against France, out of ten times you will lose eight or nine times.

“Now we have to create a situation where it is not eight or nine, but five or six. I think we are there.

“When you see them play against Denmark the players are in the top competitions but we were the better team and we had 55 percent of the ball.”

Though Australia find themselves in a pressurised situation, van Marwijk, courtesy of his familiarity with high stakes occasions, cuts a relaxed and urbane figure, as he plots the performance Australia desperately need.

“I don't really feel the pressure, I know it is there, and eveyrbody knows it’s there,” he said.

“But the team reacts very relaxed. But you need pressure, I need pressure, when I don't feel pressure I am not in the best condition. 

“You must not go too far. That's for a team exactly the same.”

He isn’t prepared to entertainin the prospect of a parting of the ways with his flock, and is reticent to give a summation on how far the team can go in the years to come.

“I think we are still growing. Its difficult for me (to say) because I hope and I think that we will stay here in Kazan,” he added.

“So I don't think about those things. That's for the people who take over from me.”

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Published 25 June 2018 at 4:00pm
By Dave Lewis in Kazan