Socceroos assistant coach Rene Meulensteen insists Aussies are ‘world champions’ in a crucial aspect of the game – and reveals how they’ll tackle Lionel Messi in Argentina clash

Assistant coach Rene Meulensteen has labelled the Socceroos ‘world champions’ when it comes to their never say die attitude.

Speaking on the talkSPORT podcast after Australia’s epic 1-0 win over Denmark which sealed a spot in the round of 16 at the World Cup, the Dutch manager explained how Graham Arnold’s men have held their own in Qatar.

‘We started this journey four and a half years ago, and the focus was always qualifying for the World Cup,’ Meulensteen said.

‘Arnie often spoke of his desire of creating the greatest Socceroos team ever.

‘There was never any doubt [in my mind] we were going to the World Cup, even though we did it the hard way.

Graham Arnold and assistant coach Rene Meulensteen (right) have guided the Socceroos to the round of 16 at the World Cup against all the odds

Graham Arnold and assistant coach Rene Meulensteen (right) have guided the Socceroos to the round of 16 at the World Cup against all the odds

Superstar Lionel Messi awaits on Sunday - but he isn't the sole player from Argentina the Socceroos will need to shut down

Superstar Lionel Messi awaits on Sunday – but he isn’t the sole player from Argentina the Socceroos will need to shut down

‘We are the world champions when it comes to fighting spirit, mentality and togetherness….we are a band of brothers.’

Plenty wrote off the Socceroos after they were handed a football lesson by reigning champions France in their Group D opener, losing 4-1.

Former Manchester United coach Meulensteen went onto reveal the playing group didn’t panic, they simply re-set and prepared for Tunisia and Denmark.

History shows Arnold’s tactics were spot on, with Australia stunning their more illustrious opponents after a couple of gritty 1-0 wins.

It set up a blockbuster date with Argentina this Sunday at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Superstar Lionel Messi looms as the obvious player the Socceroos will need to contain – but Meulensteen warned the South American giants have plenty of threats on the pitch.

‘Other guys like (Angel) Di Maria we will be looking at, not just Messi,’ he added.

‘We respect them, but we don’t fear them. ‘On the pitch it is a 22-man fight, 11 versus 11. ‘We will be ready for them.’

Australia is paying a whopping $13 with the TAB to progress to the quarter-finals, with Argentina $1.18. 

Kick-off at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium is from 6am on Sunday (AEDT).

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