SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - MARCH 29: Aaron Mooy of the Socceroos looks on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification match between the Australian Socceroos and Jordan at Allianz Stadium on March 29, 2016 in Sydney Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The Socceroos started well with Craig Goodwin scoring Australia's first open-play goal since Tim Cahill's volley against the Netherlands in 2014.

But France quickly showed their pace and quality in the group stage clash, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Theo Hernandez causing Australia real problems.

It wasn't long before France claimed the lead, ending up with four goals to their name, with Olivier Giroud becoming France's joint highest-ever goal scorer, level with Thierry Henry.

Australia's next game is vital after Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0, leaving the door wide open for Australia to potentially progress.

Before looking at the best 11 for the upcoming fixture it is important to look at our opponents to see potential areas of strength and weakness.

A player to watch is Caen fullback Ali Abdi, who can play on both flanks as a wing-back. Operating as a left wing-back for Tunisia against Denmark, Abdi won seven tackles with a 100% success rate and is a player with great pace up and down the wings.

Tunisia registered 13 total shots despite not fielding talisman Wahbi Khazri and continued on from the last World Cup in maintaining a respectable level of possession (38%) against an on-paper superior opposition.

Potential starting XI v Tunisia:

Formation – 4-2-3-1 (v France was 4-1-4-1)

Starting XI – Ryan, Atkinson, Souttar, Rowles, Behich, Mooy, Irvine, McGree, Mabil, Kuol, Maclaren (v France was Ryan, Atkinson, Souttar, Rowles, Behich, Mooy, Irvine, McGree, Goodwin, Leckie, Duke).


The formation Australia used has Mooy as a holding number six with McGree and Irvine sitting as number eights. What I think Arnold should change should be to get McGree in a number 10 role behind the striker, utilising his optimism in front of goal and creativity.

The only other change means that Mooy and Irvine can work as partners in central midfield and can pull the strings through to McGree and the wingers.

Same defence

Nathaniel Atkinson will be all the talk in defence with the likes of Fran Karacic as a like-for-like replacement, or as seen in the France game getting Milos Degenek to shift out to right-back. However, Atkinson is Australia's best player in that position and had a tough game as he was marking Mbappe. It is hard to go from playing SPL-level opponents at Hearts to playing one of the world's best dribblers and one of the world's fastest players.

With this in mind, Atkinson's pace and dribbling can be utilised to effect in behind the three at the back formation of Tunisia and deserves another shot at right-back despite a poor performance.

As for the rest of the defence, Harry Souttar has had very few minutes since returning from injury but played a good long-passing game for Australia. His partner Kye Rowles is Atkinson's teammate at Hearts and made some decent blocks. With less pace in the frontline of Tunisia they seem Australia's best combination.

Aziz Behich is someone who has performed below par at times for Australia but played a decent game against France. He showed confidence when dribbling and chased hard after Dembele all night. Before the World Cup I may have preferred Joel King at left-back, but Behich gets the nod after the France game.

Changes to the midfield structure

I have opted for Mooy and Irvine in central midfield with McGree as an attacking midfielder. McGree is a versatile forward often shifting to the right for his club side Middlesborough. But I prefer McGree as an attacking midfielder as he doesn't shy away from a long-range effort seen at his most recent club game screamer against Norwich City.

Ajdin Hrustic was used during the qualifying campaign, but he doesn't work as hard as McGree off the ball but has good solid technique when shooting. Hrustic can provide some inspiration off the bench if he feels his injury niggle isn't bothering him.

Mooy played solidly and is one of the most experienced Socceroos. His ball control and turns were respectable against France. As for Irvine, his discipline let him down a touch especially considering his captaincy role for his club side St Pauli. He has been playing well for St Pauli despite their below-par beginning to the season and he deserves selection again in my opinion.

If he fails to impress, Keanu Baccus had some decent touches off the bench, and it would be interesting to see how he would fair if given more minutes on the pitch with the likes of Cam Devlin also available.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 11: Aaron Mooy of Australia runs with the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between the Australian Socceroos and Japan at Etihad Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Changes to both flanks and up front

Leckie to Goodwin was the combination for the first goal and it was excellent. However, Harry Kewell in commentary kept making good points as the game progressed about how the wingers were playing. They were not pressing enough, they weren't making enough runs in behind, and they weren't putting any real pressure on France.

Leckie was average against France and with the youngest ever Socceroo Garang Kuol on the bench, it is his time to star. He looked positive and direct going against Theo Hernandez, who for the last two seasons has been of the world's best in his position. With Kuol's pace, dribbling and direct positive approach I think he's a no-brainier for the right side going up against Abdi.

Goodwin's replacement is harsh as he played well with composed passes and showed signs of maturity and level-headedness. However, that extra bit of pace on Mabil getting in behind the three back of Tunisia is more of a tactical change.

If the Socceroos were playing a four-back side, then Goodwin would be a justified first choice. However, looking at the opposition, Mabil on the left side I think would make the most sense tactically. Although if Goodwin is selected I am sure he will step up even more.

As for the striker position, Jason Cummings was poor off the bench and wasn't involved enough. Mitchell Duke is one of Arnold's favourite players and using his physicality and then feeding in the pacey wide midfielders isn't a bad idea.

However, Duke seemed a bit clunky on the ball and not as fluid as he could've been and with Jamie Maclaren in great form, I think his inclusion in the starting 11 may be the way to go. Creating only one shot on target and four shots in total is not going to win you games so a reshuffle seems the right way to go with Duke coming off the bench.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 27: Jamie Maclaren of Melbourne City kicks a goal during the round three A-League match between Western United and Melbourne City at GMHBA Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Australia takes on Tunisia this Saturday, November 26, at 9:00pm AEDT.