Socceroos recall last look in mirror

Australia's Jackson Irvine in action against France in their World Cup opener.
Australia's Jackson Irvine in action against France in their World Cup opener.

As Australia prepares for a look at their footballing "mirror" against Denmark, they can take heart from the last time the Socceroos met their tactical opposites.

On Thursday in Samara, Bert van Marwijk's side face Denmark, a team that Trent Sainsbury says sets up identically to Australia.

One year ago, the Socceroos faced a similar setup in Russia.

The scene was Moscow's Otkritie Arena for last year's Confederations Cup.

The opponent was Chile, in the last of their group games at the tournament.

And the performance was one out of the box, as Jackson Irvine recalls.

"It's probably my favourite football match I've ever been involved in," he tells AAP.

The South American champions were ranked world No.3 and were famed for their high-pressing, relentless possession and attacking game.

Then-Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou was delighted to draw Chile, saying he was keen to emulate their rise to the top of their continent and through the FIFA rankings.

At the Confederations Cup, Postecoglou rolled the dice to make six changes, including benching Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Mat Leckie.

Irvine and Massimo Luongo were trusted to anchor midfield, while Mark Milligan was moved to defence to mark Alexis Sanchez.

Milligan blanketed the superstar and the young midfielders ran the show as Australia earned a 1-1 draw.

Not enough to progress, but plenty to be proud of.

"Everything about it was literally, toe to toe, like looking in a mirror. Two teams trying to do the exact same thing to each other," Irvine said.

"Pressing high, being aggressive, strong. Moving the ball quickly, breaking lines."

Neither Postecoglou nor Chile are in Russia.

The Chileans missed out to Peru, Australia's final group stage opponent, and Postecoglou left the Socceroos role in a move still shrouded in mystery.

Australian Associated Press