For Australia, the road to Russia was long, tiring and packed with drama.
The Socceroos played 22 matches, clocking up 250,000 air miles, playing 22 matches, during an exhausting campaign, which culminated in a 3-1 playoff win over Honduras.
A week after that victory, their coach, Ange Postecoglou, resigned, saying the job had 'taken a toll'.
It took until January 24 to replace the 52-year-old, with Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, the man who guided Saudi Arabia to the World Cup, eventually being given the job.Read More
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He has just a few short months to impart his philosophies on his team, but with veteran Tim Cahill, 38, leading an experienced group, the Socceroos have enough in their locker to cause an upset.
The Socceroos had to qualify for the World Cup the hard way, playing an energy-sapping 22 games.
Ending the initial qualifying stage behind Saudi Arabia on goal difference, the Aussies eventually booked their World Cup place with playoff wins over Syria (2-1 aet) and Honduras (3-1).
They're yet to play a friendly this year, but have a couple, against Norway and Colombia, in March.
Huddersfield's midfield general, Aaron Mooy has impressed in the Terriers' engine room this season, putting in a string of all action displays, chipping in with four goals and three assists.
Mile Jedinak, who scored a hat-trick in the Socceroos' playoff win over Honduras, will also have a key role to play, but Mooy is undoubtedly the form midfielder.
If Huddersfield get relegated, a decent showing in Russia could secure 27-year-old Mooy a move to a team at the top end of the Premier League table.
Centre back Bailey Wright is only 25, but has already amassed more than 200 appearances in the Football League, for Preston North End and Bristol City.
An aggressive, natural leader, Wright is particularly strong in the air, winning more than his fair share of aerial duels, often against taller opponents.
He goes to the World Cup on the back a fine season captaining Bristol City, who are pushing for a Championship playoff place after reaching the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Saturday June 16 - France vs Australia, 11am, Kazan Arena, Kazan
Thursday June 21 - Denmark vs Australia, 1pm, Samara Arena, Samara
Tuesday June 26 - Australia vs Peru, 3pm, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
William Hill have Australia at 250/1 to win the tournament outright.
*odds correct at the time of publishing