No guts, no glory: Socceroos coach

Bert van Marwijk respects Australia's World Cup opponent France but is not overawed by them.
Bert van Marwijk respects Australia's World Cup opponent France but is not overawed by them.

Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk knows it's easier said than done.

"You have to have the guts to play and be yourself," he said.

So van Marwijk has implored his Australian underdogs to snap at fancied France in Saturday's World Cup Group C opener in Russia.

"When suddenly (Paul) Pogba is standing in front of you or (Antoine) Griezmann and (Kylian) Mbappe ... you must not be impressed," van Marwijk said.

"You can have respect. But you must not be impressed.

"You must be yourself."

Van Marwijk was adamant the Socceroos had improved under his watch - he was appointed coach in January, two months after the resignation of Ange Postecoglou.

But by how much? Van Marwijk was uncertain.

"When I see the development of the players in the first few days to now, it's a big difference," he said.

"They developed, they improved. And we will see if it's enough."

A talent-laden France will give van Marwijk an instant answer at Kazan Arena in the tournament opener for both nations.

The fixture, on paper, is a massive mismatch - title contenders France, ranked seventh in the world, against Australia, ranked 36th.

And van Marwijk hoped the French were thinking exactly along those lines.

"Normally, they will underestimate us but I read an interview with (France coach (Didier) Deschamps and I think they changed a little bit," he said.

"I think they start to respect us more, that's what I read that he says.

"(But) I hope they will underestimate us."

Van Marwijk offered his blueprint for what would be among the biggest boilovers in World Cup history if Australia could win.

"We trained a lot in all of the situations that can happen," he said.

"How we want to build up. How is the transition when you lose the ball.

"How are we standing when the opponent has the ball. Where we press.

"We want them not to play between the lines, we want to close those lines, we want to have all this pressure on the ball."

On the flip side, Australia's plans when in possession centred on finding gifted playmaker Tom Rogic.

"Against France, you must have the guts to play football, to be yourself and then you can find a free man at No.10," van Marwijk said.

"Against countries like France, maybe you get more possibilities to play because their field is a lot of time wide so you can play between - only you have to take the right position and have the guts to do that."

Australian Associated Press