Make no mistake: tonight’s game against Greece is
extremely important. Winning or losing is irrelevant: the aim is to be “fit, physically and mentally,
tactically and in the strategic way of playing” in preparation for the World
Cup opener against Japan.

Socceroo coach Guus Hiddink has said that he won’t
be using the lead-up matches to give fringe players an opportunity to force
their way into the best XI. Hiddink will field his strongest possible line-up but
will be without the injured Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, John Aloisi and Josh
Kennedy. Mile Sterjovski and Josip Skoko are the beneficiaries of positions in
the starting line-up replacing Kewell and Cahill.

It is widely tipped that Hiddink will use a 4-2-3-1
formation for the World Cup and as this game is a rehearsal he will implement
the same formation.

Mark Viduka will play as a lone striker in attack for
most of the game with other striking options Aloisi and Kennedy out injured.
Sterjovski will fill in for Kewell on the left, Jason Culina will play behind
Viduka and Marco Bresciano will operate on the right wing. Vince Grella and
Skoko will be the defensive midfielders shielding the back four of Scott
Chipperfield, Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton and the reinstated Craig Moore.

The European champions Greece will be looking to
regain some respect against Australia, as they
failed to qualify for the World Cup. The opposition players were chosen wisely – we can
expect them to play a similar brand of football to World Cup opponents Croatia. With Melbourne’s strong
Greek links the crowd atmosphere will be electric, and with Greece fielding
their strongest line-up the intensity required will be similar to a big game.

In many ways, Australia’s World
Cup campaign starts here.

Likely teams:

Australia (4-2-3-1): Mark
Schwarzer; Brett Emerton, Craig Moore, Lucas Neill, Scott Chipperfield; Vince
Grella, Josip Skoko; Jason Culina, Marco Bresciano, Mile Sterjovski; Mark
Viduka.

Greece (4-5-1): Antonios
Nikopolidis; Georgios Seitaridis, Traianos Dellas, Ioannis Goumas, Takis
Fyssas; Theo Zagorakis, Kostas Katsouranis, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Angelo
Basinas, Georgios Karagounis; Angelo Charisteas.

Peter Fray

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