Australia's Matthew Leckie and Luka Modric, of Croatia, contest the ball during Friday night's friendly at Pituacu Stadium in Salvador, Brazil.

Australia's Matthew Leckie and Luka Modric, of Croatia, contest the ball during Friday night's friendly at Pituacu Stadium in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Cameron Spencer

Vitoria, Brazil: The period of waiting and planning is almost over. Ange Postecoglou and his team can see their date with desinty against Chile on Friday hoving into view, and while the South Americans go into the match as clear favourites, hope is rising in the Australian camp that they can pull off a surprise start to the tournament.

Striker Matthew Leckie, a hard running, hard working and physically strong frontman, knows that expectation on the Australian side is low.

Croatia's Nikica Jelavic beats Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan to slot home the winner on Friday night.

Croatia's Nikica Jelavic beats Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan to slot home the winner on Friday night. Photo: Cameron Spencer

Nevertheless, he believes that they are in with a chance against the fancied Chileans, particularly because of the tactical approach the South Americans use.

Chile has employed a high defensive line in recent times, pressing the game and denying the opposition attackers space close to goal. Well, that's the theory.

But teams who compress the game in midfield that way and try to play the game in their opponent's half can themselves prove vulnerable to quick balls over the top or fast counter attacks from the flanks – something Leckie, one of Australia's quickest players, is hoping to exploit.

"We are going out there probably thinking they will play high, because they have in the past few games. If we can play out of defence it gives us the chance to play past their midfield and strikers, then it might give us the chance to get in behind if they are sitting really high, and it probably will suit us better," the German-based attacker said after a training session back at the Socceroos base at Vitoria on Sunday.

Leckie, in common with a number of players, took things easy after an arduous few days. He played virtually the entire match on Friday night against Croatia and, like much of the squad, is now tapering down to be fresh for the tournament kick off on Friday.

"We are trying to manage the players individually, they thought the best thing for me was to take a day off. I have been in every session since we have been in camp and I played 85 minutes against Croatia. It was a tough game with hard hits from both sides, I was a bit sore after the game."

Leckie was frustrated at the scoreline against Croatia and believes that the Socceroos deserved better.

"I think it was pretty harsh to lose 1-0 – I thought the game was pretty even and a 0-0 draw would have been a fair result I think. We were a bit unlucky with the goal, the deflection ... I think we defended really well for most of the game [and] we put ourselves in position where we could maybe have been more dangerous."

Still, he accepts his coach Ange Postecoglou's verdict that the team, while tight at the back, didn't manufacture enough chances when it was in the opposition's final third.

"We have to make sure  when we play those three group stage games that we take advantage of any chances we create in the front third. If we put up solid defensive performances like we did against Croatia, it could be good.

"If you look at the games in the past, naturally Croatia is probably a better opponent than those we have played recently, but we did get in some positions up front but didn't really create much. He's right, when we got forward we probably didn't do much with it – we have to be more lively and get into better positions."

Leckie's versatility is a handy asset – he can play anywhere across the front and is happy to do so. 

"I played at my club (Second Division German side FVV Frankfurt) on the left and right wing and as a striker as well," he said. "I feel I can play all the roles. They (recent games) have been friendlies, Ange is still trying things. Whether he tried to play me in different positions to see if I can do the job I don't know,but I have played those positions in last two years."

Leckie is convinced that Australia can upset the applecart, but doesn't want the team to do so simply in a "traditional" in-your-face Australian way. The 23-year-old believes there is enough flair and technical ability in the squad to surprise better credentialled opposition through football as much as fighting spirit.

"We knew that we would be having a situation where everyone thinks we are going to fail and do nothing in this World Cup. But we want to play great football too ... people just know us as a fighting team that never gives up and fights to the end, so we want to bring the football side to it. 

"Although we lost 1-0 (to Croatia), a lot of people would have thought we would have been outclassed or lost by more. I felt the game was pretty even and a 0-0 draw would have been fair."

A World Cup start would the culmination of a four-year whirlwind for the Melbourne-born Leckie, who played his junior football with Bulleen Lions but was not offered a deal by Melbourne Victory, having to go to Adelaide to get an A-League opportunity.

"It's happened very fast for me. I had problems getting any sort of recognition in Melbourne and then I was a lucky to be part of that (national) under-20 team, which is why Adelaide took me," he said. "I thought I would be in the A-League longer, but that all happened pretty fast and I was overseas. I have worked hard to get here – I hope I am a player in the national team for the long-term future."