FOOTBALL: After a long four year wait for Australian football fans the 2018 FIFA World Cup is finally here, with games kicking off in Russia tonight.

It is a chance for redemption for the Socceroos, who have not made it out of the group stages on their last two attempts. Their task does not get easier this year either in a group with France, Peru and Denmark.

The Aussies kick off their tournament against the highly-favoured Les Bleus Saturday night and will be hopeful they can put on a strong showing.

It has been a tough road to Russia for the Socceroos. A road paved with fallen coaches, aging stars and disappointing friendly matches.

But can we make it out of the group stages? Pottsy and Moose go Behind the Sports Desk to find out.

MATTHEW 'MOOSE' ELKERTON: Aussie spirit to help Socceroos advance

LIKE Jeff Horn over Manny Pacquiao and Prince of Penzance storming to a 100-1 victory in the Melbourne Cup, Australian sporting legends are built on the story of the underdog overcoming adversity.

The Socceroos are about to be just another in a long line of Australian success stories.

No longer are we the minnows of the FIFA World Cup, this is the fourth straight time we have been to the big dance.

We now belong there. And I think that realisation is coming through in the players and the coaching staff.

You could see it when Bert van Marjwik walked off after our narrow win against Hungary and labelled the performance as "bad".

Where once we would have celebrated any win, no matter how lucky it was, now we don't.

Van Marjwik has serious expectations of his side. He is treating them like bona fide chances in the World Cup. And why shouldn't he?

We have world quality players such as like Aaron Mooy, Mile Jedinak and Tom Rogic who are all playing top-level European football.

Add the experience in the side with Robbie Kruse and Tim Cahill mixed with the youthful excitement of Adam Taggart and Daniel Arzani.

There is balance in Van Marjwik's squad and there is plenty of ability.

We may be in a tough pool but we face our toughest match first up tomorrow night.

The French are historically slow starters at the World Cup, so if we can jag a shock draw then we will escape the group.

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: Australia to be on the first flight home

PIGS may fly, hell may freeze over, chicken may grow teeth and Australia might make it out of the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.

I can hear the pained cries now that I'm a traitor, unpatriotic and a pessimist.

Have faith, I've been told. Stranger things have happened, that's for sure. They might surprise me, but I honestly doubt it.

Fact of the matter is, in the entire lead-up to the World Cup, Australia has done nothing to really show they're going to make any impact on the competition, apart from being involved in the group matches.

Just look at the last friendly we played. Yes, the very game where our own coach, the man who should have the most faith in the world, said we were bad.

The very game where our goals came from our opposition's ineptitude, where the goalkeeper forgot how to stop a ball and then scored an own goal. I shouldn't be too harsh, because we scored one of them ourselves.

Then we've just got to look at who we are up against.

For starters there's France, arguably one of the competition favourites who boast international superstars like Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud.

Then there's Denmark and Peru, who will both take a real effort from Australia to beat.

I hope the Socceroos have some sightseeing tours booked for Russia, because they won't be playing football for long.

The Socceroos are the participation medal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.



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