16:30 BST, Saturday 9th June, Groupama Arena (Budapest, Hungary)
The Socceroos’ World Cup preparations draw to a close as they face Hungary in Budapest on Sunday, providing an excellent opportunity to build on their form and take confidence going into the group stages.
A convincing victory in their penultimate friendly against the Czech Republic saw Australia claim their first win under coach Bert van Marwijk.
A Hungarian side who will not feature in Russia will provide an interesting test for the Australians.
While they trod a tough road to Moscow, facing teams such as Portugal and Switzerland, Hungary have not followed up their heartbreak in promising fashion with recent friendly defeats at the hands of Kazakhstan and Scotland.
With no World Cup to look forward to, head coach Georges Leekens will look to breathe life into the team, rejuvenating their style of play.
Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai is expected to start up front and he will look to attack Australia’s makeshift defence.
Adam Nagy should also feature from the bench with the young midfielder showing promising signs after recently breaking into Bologna’s plans.
After missing the previous friendly due to late arrival at camp, skipper Mile Jedinak will return to the team against the Hungarians in their final hit out.
To avoid upsetting the balance of midfield, Jedinak could partner Trent Sainsbury at centre back with Mark Milligan making way.
If Tomi Juric is passed fit, he should be given time to start up front for the Aussies.
Massimo Luongo and Aaron Mooy linked up nicely in midfield, displaying great understanding and chemistry to develop many of the Socceroos’ attacks against the Czech Republic. Expect both players to hold their position.
Despite lacklustre recent form, Robbie Kruse should keep his spot on the wing and he should be in van Marwijk’s plans for the starting XI against France in Russia.
Key Battle: Mathew Leckie (Australia) vs Richard Guzmics (Hungary)
Mathew Leckie ran riot against the Czech Republic when the two clubs met last week.
Thriving on the space left by the Czech midfield, Leckie could use his speed and strength to charge into the penalty box at will, picking up two goals on the way.
He will again be given his chance to continue this form against Hungary and another strong performance will see him take great confidence into the World Cup.
He will face up against the experienced Richard Guzmics from Hungary.
The 31-year-old will take up position on the left side of defence and will need to be ready to contain Leckie’s hunger and intense work ethic.
Australia needs to win big
The Socceroos face France in their opening tie of the World Cup and they could scarcely have asked for more difficult opposition.
Australia are not known for their convincing wins in recent times. However, a 4-0 win over the Czechs is a result which would please coach van Marwijk.
While Hungary do not have the personnel or calibre of player that France possess, the Australians will be looking to take confidence into their opening encounter.
Two substantial victories in a row would be the best preparation the Aussies could ask for heading to Russia.
Prediction: Hungary 0-3 Australia
Australia are showing great signs at the moment and all players will be looking to impress again to cement a starting spot in the opening fixture against France.
The Hungarian team possess threat up front in Adam Szalai and captain Balazs Dzsudzsak. However, their opportunities will be sparse in Budapest.
Look for Leckie to star again, and Aaron Mooy to control play from midfield.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss the ins and outs of Group B in the World Cup for Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
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