Luongo looks to break into XI for Australia as Sterling fears for his England place
PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 June 2018
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QPR man will hope to help Socceroos to success against Danes, while Brent boy may lose starting spot for Three Lions
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Massimo Luongo will hope to get his first taste of World Cup action on Thursday when his Australia side face Denmark in Group C.
The 25-year-old was an unused substitute as the Socceroos were beaten 2-1 by France in their opening group match in Kazan on Saturday.
After a goalless first half, Antoine Griezmann fired Les Blues ahead from the spot in the 58th minute, before the Aussies levelled through a spot kick of their own four minutes later, with Mile Jedinak converting from 12 yards.
However, with nine minutes remain, Socceroos defender Aziz Behich deflected a Paul Pogba shot into his own net to send Luongo’s countrymen crashing to defeat in their opening game.
With the Danes having beaten Peru 1-0 in Saransk in the other game in the opening round of fixtures in Group C, Thursday’s clash in Samara looks to be do-or-die for Australia at the World Cup.
And Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk, who took his native Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, is all too aware of how imperative the match is.
‘’I don’t have to tell the players (the importance of the game) because the whole world now knows we are playing against Denmark,” the 66-year-old told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The only thing is I want to give them the feeling at the start that is so important.’’
Luongo’s fellow Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy, meanwhile, know it is key the team go on the attack against the Danes in order to secure an all-important win.
Mooy told Australian broadcaster SBS: “We need a result in the next match.
“We’ve been looking at what we need to do tactically, and we will have to be at our best to get a result. We need a win.
“The game plan worked well but now we need to attack a bit more because we need three points. Hopefully we’ll create chances.”
While Luongo looks to force his way into the Australia starting XI, Brent’s Raheem Sterling may find himself dropped from the England lineup to face Panama in Group G on Sunday.
The Manchester City winger struggled in a 2-1 win for the Three Lions over Tunisia on Monday and could find himself replaced in the XI by Marcus Rashford for Sundays’ game in Nizhny Novgorod.