Field guide to the play­ers

WHO - - Streaming Guide - By Cyn­thia Wang

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.

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