The World Cup draw for next year’s tournament in Russia has finally been revealed and the Socceroos now know their destiny – for the group stage at least.
Australian supporters will be keen to start planning their trips to the world’s largest country, but may not be armed with all the information they need.
The tournament will start on June 14 with the opening ceremony and first match, before ending with the final on July 15.
There is 12 venues in 11 host cites – with Moscow being the only city to have two stadiums.
Goal’s comprehensive guide tells green-and-gold fans everything they need to know about the Socceroos’ World Cup journey, and how they can be a part of it.
WHO HAVE AUSTRALIA DRAWN IN THE GROUP STAGE?
The Socceroos have been drawn into Group C and will face France, Peru and Denmark.
It’s a decent group for the green-and-gold, who have a chance to progress from the group behind heavyweights France.
The 2016 European Championships finalist will be hot favourites to progress from the group. The French have a plethora of talent including Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, N’Golo Kante and Anthony Martial.
Star player: Paul Pogba – The Manchester United star is the second-most expensive player in the world, and for good reason. His ability to drive through midfield and score goals will be a constant threat to the Australian midfield and defence.
The South Americans snuck into the World Cup at the expense of Chile and can’t be underestimated. Most of their players are based in South America but feature veteran attacker Jefferson Farfan, who is plying his trade at Lokomotiv Moscow, and fringe Watford winger Andre Carrillo. Captain Paolo Guerrero, formerly of Bayern Munich, will be a threat in front of goal.
Star player: Paolo Guerrero – Playing his trade for Flamengo in Brazil, the Peruvian striker played for Bayern in the mid 2000s and will pose significant issues to the Socceroos defence.
The Danes qualified courtesy of a playoff victory against Ireland and will feature in their fifth World Cup – and first since 2010. Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen is undoubtedly their star while the enigmatic former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is likely to be their talisman.
Star player: Christian Eriksen – The Spurs playmaker scored eight goals in qualifying and will be the man Australia needs to stop. He has the ability to create goals with a brilliant range of passing and is also deadly from set pieces.
WHEN WILL AUSTRALIA PLAY?
The Socceroos are basing themselves in the city of Kazan, which will be the venue for their opening match against France.
Australia v France (Kazan Arena, Kazan) – Saturday June 16, 8pm AEST (1pm local time)
Australia v Denmark (Cosmos Arena, Samara) – Friday June 22 1am AEST (7pm local time)
Australia v Peru (Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi) – Tuesday June 26 12am AEST (5pm local time)
WHO WILL AUSTRALIA PLAY IF WE QUALIFY FOR THE ROUND OF 16?
If the Socceroos qualify from Group C, they will face a team from Group D in the round-of-16.
It could be Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria.
Assuming France tops Australia’s group, then the green-and-gold will need to finish second and will likely meet Argentina in the knockouts.
HOW DO I GET TICKETS TO WATCH AUSTRALIA?
Goal has published a comprehensive guide on how to buy Australian World Cup tickets.
You can find the guide here .
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND RUSSIA?
With distances between host cities varying between 300km (Nizhny Novgorod to Saransk) to 3000km (Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg), the most efficient way to get around is almost always going to be flying.
Free trains will be available to all people with a FAN ID (see visa-free entry below) – this includes both short-haul and long-haul trains. The time of journeys could be anywhere from a few hours to 51 hours – which is the train trip from Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg.
Buses are also likely to be available but take huge amounts of time to get from location to location.
You can also hire a car but bear in mind that Russia has some of the most dangerous roads in the world.
I HEARD IF I GET A TICKET, IT’S VISA-FREE ENTRY TO RUSSIA
Russia’s notorious foreign VISA restrictions have been eased and if you have a ticket to any World Cup match, you will be able to apply for a document called a FAN ID that will allow VISA-free travel for the duration of the tournament.
The document is free and you can apply here (but only if you have a match ticket secured in your name).
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