France vs Australia - Preview - World Cup 2018

European heavyweights, France, are strong favourites to beat Australia
France will look to get their World Cup campaign on a winning note when they take on Australia on Saturday.

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FIFA World Cup 
Group C
France vs Australia 
Saturday 16 June 
Kazan Arena 
12:00

To Win 
France 1/5
Draw 5/1
Australia 14/1

France

After lifting the World Cup as captain in 1998, Didier Deschamps will hope to do the same as the head coach of France. Les Bleus are firm favourites to top Group C and are priced up at 13/2 to win their second FIFA World Cup. France have moved on well from their disappointment in South Africa 2010 and are now once again a force in world football. Under Deschamps, Les Bleus have made steady progress, reaching the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil before becoming the losing finalists at Euro 2016. At Russia 2018, Deschamps will look to go one better and make France world champions again.

France are stacked with so much talent that Deschamps didn’t have place for Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial. Even without the Premier League pair, France still have arguably the strongest squad in the tournament. Griezmann, Mbappe, Lemar, Pogba, Kante, Varane… the names just roll off the tongue. The Socceroos will have threats coming at them from all over the park in Kazan.

Antoine Griezmann will be out to make his mark on another major competition, having been top scorer and Player of the Tournament at UEFA Euro 2016. The Atletico Madrid forward provided four goals and four assists for Les Bleus in the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

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Australia

This will be Australia’s fourth straight World Cup appearance and they’ll be hoping to advance past the Round of 16 for the first time. At the 2014 World Cup, they lost all three group matches in Brazil.

The Aussies, coached by Bert van Marwijk – who guided Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup – will be desperate to qualify this time, but they find themselves in another tough group with France, Denmark and Peru, needing at least one big upset to have a chance of moving on.

Australia booked their ticket to Russia by beating Honduras 3-1 in their intercontinental play-off, following the Socceroos finishing as Asia’s best third-place side after a play-off with Syria. After that, the Aussies played two friendlies this year, losing 4-1 to Norway in Oslo before playing to a goalless draw against Colombia at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

Australia’s hopes of upsetting France will rely heavily on Tim Cahill. Despite the former Millwall striker being 38 years old, Cahill is still a key player for the Socceroos. He netted 11 goals on the road to Russia, including several trademark headers. Cahill will be eager to get on the scoresheet and become one of the few players to score at four World Cups.

Probable line-ups:

France: 4-3-3
Lloris; Sidibe, Varane, Umtiti, Mendy; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Lemar, Mbappe, Griezmann. 

Australia: 3-4-2-1 
Ryan; Wright, Sainsbury, Jurman; Leckie, Jedinak, Milligan, Behich; Mooy, Rogic; Cahill. 

Prediction: France (-1) Handicap (13/20)
This is an easy one to call. France have a host of attacking stars at their disposal with the likes of Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappe and Griezmann leading a lethal team that is superior to Australia in all departments. Back Les Bleus on the (-1) Handicap at 13/20. 

Written by Chadley Nagel

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