Field guide to the players
Even without Italy this year, “it’s a captivating World Cup,” says SBS soccer host Lucy Zelić. She tells WHO the main storylines, and highlights for the Socceroos, in the Beautiful Game’s quadrennial tournament, live from Russia starting June 14 to the final on July 15.
What should we look for?
Can Germany go back-to-back? Will Brazil put the nightmare of 2014 behind them? And we will see if the hosts Russia perform with the eyes of the world upon them.
Can the Socceroos advance?
The first match with France is critical. It’ll be tough but not impossible, and a decent result there will set the team up for Denmark and Peru.
So their draw is competitive?
Very. France have some outstanding talent at their disposal and are, rightly, one of the favourites to win. Denmark had a great qualifying campaign and, in Christian Eriksen, have one of the Premier League’s best players, and Peru is a dangerous opponent.
This is Tim Cahill’s fourth cup. What will it mean if he scores?
What a warrior Tim has been for us. The memories of Germany and Brazil are unforgettable. If he scores in Russia, he’ll become one of only four men to ever score in four consecutive World Cups. He’ll be coming off the subs bench and I’m sure, if called upon, he’ll be up to the task.
Who are the key Cup players?
Cristiano Ronaldo is a true celebrity footballer, one of the all-time great players in terms of record and ability, but also probably the most marketable athletes in the world. Brazilian star Neymar was badly injured in 2014, so he has a point to prove as Brazil seek their first win since 2002.
How about Lionel Messi?
Messi is the best player in the world and will go down as an all-time great, but Argentina have been unable to win the World Cup while he’s played. They lost the final in 2014 and this is Messi’s last chance for the one win that will cement his legacy as the greatest.
England has had a dismal run for decades. Can they win?
I wouldn’t list them as a favourite but they are a team revitalised under Gareth Southgate. The majority of their squad plied their trade in the Premier League this season under world-class coaches like Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp and were in blistering form. They are certainly a dark horse and will be one to watch.
“The World Cup never lacks drama,” asserts The World Game’s Zelić, who will work with SBS football analyst Craig Foster.
The SBS team (from left): David Basheer, Zelić, Foster, and Craig Moore.