Australia can't wait for France tie
Kazan: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan has warned France that a new, improved Australia team are plotting an early 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia shock when the sides meet in Kazan on Saturday.
"Come the France game, we're going to be ready... and giving ourselves opportunities to win this game," the Brighton stopper warned."We can't wait for Saturday."
Australia arrived in Kazan on Sunday, and Bert van Marwijk's side - fresh from two morale-boosting wins over the Czech Republic (4-0) and Hungary (2-1) - are on a high.
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France, who boast "world-class" talent in Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, according to Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo (pictured below), are among the tournament favourites in Russia alongside Brazil and Germany.
But the Euro 2016 finalists have been warned not to take the new, improved and more determined Socceroos too lightly at Kazan Arena.
"I read a stat before the Czech game that we hadn't won against an European opponent in Europe for quite some time," said Ryan. "We managed to do that twice in a couple of weeks.
"I feel like we're benefiting and progressing from our time together in this mini-camp in Turkey. For myself and for the squad, the progress has been out of sight."
After squeezing into the FIFA World Cup following a marathon 22-game qualifying campaign under the helm of previous coach Ange Postecoglou, Australia then had to adapt to the arrival of Van Marwijk.
His more disciplined approach, coupled with the desire to get forward and take chances when they come, said Luongo, has spread confidence throughout the squad.
"The manager doesn't want to lose or draw games, he wants us to win them," added Luongo, a versatile midfielder who plays for Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship.
Despite his admiration for France's individual talents, the 25-year-old Luongo, whose father is Italian and mother is Indonesian, believes France are "there for the taking".
"At this level, everyone's even," he said. "As you've seen in the past it's all there for the taking. Individually, they've got some big players, world-class players, especially in midfield."
Jiangsu Suning defender Trent Sainsbury is expected to keep a close eye on Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann.
He said: "Obviously, he's one of best in the world, everyone's talking about him. But it's a team sport and I've got teammates around me who can help me to deal with that."
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