The Socceroos come face-to-face with history on Sunday morning, with the chance to record arguably the greatest victory in Australian sporting history, facing World Cup fancies Argentina in the round of 16.
Lionel Messi’s powerhouse side is a red-hot favourite but having already recorded their best men’s World Cup performance ever, Graham Arnold’s side is dreaming of another boilover and a first ever quarter-final berth.
Follow Australia v Argentina from 6am AEDT Sunday in our live blog below!
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ARGENTINA STAR IN SERIOUS DOUBT
Juventus star Angel Di Maria remains in doubt to line up for Argentina against Australia on Sunday morning after being subbed out with an injury in his nation’s final group stage match.
Di Maria was examined the day after the Argentine win over Poland, where he was withdrawn after complaining of thigh discomfort, initially said to be a precautionary measure.
But with hours left before the round of 16 contest his status remains unclear.
Di Maria has played just 10 games this Serie A season, missing 12 through various injuries.
Souttar ready to line up against Messi! | 02:52
$1.1 BILLION GAP PROVES SIZE OF AUSSIE TASK
Sixteen years ago the Socceroos pushed the eventual World Cup winners to the dying minute of their Round of 16 clash.
It came down to under 30 seconds left in added time before Fabio Grosso fell over Lucas Neil in the penalty box which Fransesco Totti put into the back of the net.
The moment still burns for football faithful Down Under, but on Sunday morning the Aussies have a chance to bury the past.
Standing in their way are South American powerhouse Argentina who, entered the Qatar World Cup as second favourite, behind Brazil.
They’re led by superstar Lionel Messi who in his final World Cup campaign is looking to add the only missing piece of silverware to his illustrious career.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni attempted to claim underdog status ahead of the Sunday morning (AEDT) showdown, insisting his side is not favourites.
While we’ve seen plenty of monumental upsets so far throughout this World Cup campaign, Australia knocking off the third ranked side in the world would top the lot.
The South American giants have the eighth most valuable squad on the football market with the combined value coming in at an eye-watering $1.1 billion.
In comparison, Australia’s is valued at a moderately low $58 million. Of all 32 World Cup nations, Australia only ranked above Qatar and Costa Rica.
Messi alone rakes in more money than the entire Socceroos squad.
Trying to find an angle for Argentina being the underdog might be a tougher task than the Aussies pulling out the win.
But then again the Aussies weren’t expected to even make it out of the group stage and yet, here we are.
Not only would a stunning upset victory over Argentina propel the Socceroos into the history books among the greatest moments in Australian sporting history, it would result in a staggering prizemoney windfall.
The winning nation will earn a staggering $AUD61 million with total prizemoney across the Qatar World Cup coming in at $647m.
For simply making the World Cup Australia received a $13m cheque, but that rose to $19m for making it into the Round of 16.
And if they pull off the victory nobody thinks possible? That prizemoney will jump to $25m. While the money is for the nation, the playing group have received a hefty sum for their efforts.
Each player on the squad for reaching the Round of 16 has so far pocketed $316,000, another win and they’ll each walk away with just under half a million each with $430,000 for each member in the squad.
Many wrote the Aussies off following their 4-1 defeat at the hands of France in their World Cup opener, but they’ve turned it around and made history by winning their past two games.
The upsets have been a constant throughout the group stage, here’s hoping it continues in the Round of 16.
South Korea celebrate dramatic win | 02:02
AUSSIE CHANCES OF PULLING HISTORIC UPSET REVEALED
Thought playing France was hard? According to the numbers, this will be even harder.
Stats Insider’s 10,000 simulations of Australia’s clash with Argentina suggest the Socceroos have just a 6.6% chance of winning – lower than the 7.8% they gave them heading into the loss to France.
But this is where the knockout stage rules can help Graham Arnold’s men, because they have the Grey Wiggle on their side.
With a 15.5% chance of a draw, just getting to penalties could allow Andrew Redmayne to become the hero, just as he was in the confederation playoffs shootout that got Australia to Qatar.
And for what it’s worth, Sunday’s game is being played at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan – the same venue where Australia stunned Peru.
The most likely full-time score is tipped to be 2-0 Argentina (16% chance), and a 1-1 draw (7%) is more likely than Australia winning by any scoreline.
Meanwhile Stats Perform gives Australia an 18.2% chance of advancing into the quarter-finals.
If the Socceroos advance to the quarter-finals their most likely opponent is the Netherlands (65.9%), with Brazil their most likely semi-final opponent should they incredibly reach that far.
SOMEONE IS CONFIDENT… (OR RICH)
Optimistic Aussie punters have laid down some enormous bets on the Socceroos heading into the showdown with Argentina.
They have been backed from $17 into $10 to win outright, with one gambler placing a whopping $11,900 at $13 odds in an attempt to win $154,700 with TAB.
There are at least 12 other bets of $1000 or more on Australia to win at odds of $13 or larger.
Argentina is $1.22 to win after 90 minutes and $1.06 to advance, with odds of a draw ($5.50) the same as their overall odds of winning the tournament.
Australia is rated a $151 chance of winning the World Cup from here, equal with South Korea and Senegal, and only ahead of Poland ($251).
Follow Australia’s Socceroos v Argentina in our live blog below!