A possible mismatch looms in Kazan as France look to start their World Cup campaign strongly against underdogs Australia
In this Group C opener, Australia and France will be desperate to start their World Cup campaigns on the right foot when they meet in Kazan on June 16.
Didier Deschamps’ side enter the game as strong favourites with France tipped to go far in Russia, while Bert van Marwijk’s Socceroos side face a real challenge to escape a difficult group.
With games against Denmark and Peru to come, Australia need to avoid a repeat of their 4-0 loss to Germany in their 2010 World Cup opener to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stage alive.
In their favour is the fact France have developed a reputation of being slow starters at World Cups having only won one of their past four opening games at the tournament.
On paper it’s hard to see the French slipping up, but the Socceroos are a side that simply can never be written off.
|Game||France vs Australia|
|Date||Saturday June 16|
|Time||13.00 LOCAL / 20:00 AEST|
|Stream||SBS / Optus Sport|
TV Channel & Live Stream
In Australia, the match will be televised exclusively by SBS with live streams available via SBS and Optus Sport.
Optus Sport have the rights to every single World Cup game and a month’s subscription is available for $14.99 .
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ryan, Jones, Vukovic|
|Defenders||Behich, Degenek, Jurman, Meredith, Risdon, Sainsbury|
|Midfielders||Irvine, Jedinak, Luongo, Milligan, Mooy, Petratos, Rogic,|
|Forwards||Cahill, Juric, Kruse, Leckie, Nabbout, Arzani, Maclaren|
This match looms as one of damage limitations for Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk, who will be desperate to ensure his side aren’t handed a big defeat.
As a result, expect the Dutchman to play it safe with his squad and possibly favour more defensive players.
Mat Ryan will start in goal, while the back four will likely remain unchanged despite a shaky display against Hungary.
In midfield, Celtic’s Tom Rogic could find himself on the bench with Jackson Irvine a potential preference to start due to his aerial and physical strength in midfield.
Up front, Tomi Juric will likely start at number nine with his height and hold up play set to be crucial for a Socceroos side that need to do all they can to neutralise a frightening French outfit.
Potential Australia starting XI: Ryan; Risdon, Sainsbury, Jedinak, Behich; Luongo, Mooy, Leckie, Kruse, Irvine; Juric.
|Goalkeepers||Lloris, Mandanda, Areola|
|Defenders||Sidibe, Pavard, Rami, Varane, Umtiti, Kimpembe, Mendy, Hernandez|
|Midfielders||Pogba, Matuidi, Tolisso, Kante, Nzonzi|
|Forwards||Mbappe, Giroud, Griezmann, Dembele, Thauvin, Lemar, Fekir|
There’s little wonder why this French side are tipped to go far in Russia with a squad as strong as this.
Between the sticks, captain Hugo Lloris is a certainty but the four in front of him are a little less uncertain with Real Madrid centre back Raphaël Varane the only definite starter.
Further up the field, Deschamps will find it hard not to include Premier League duo Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante in holding midfield roles.
Leading the line should be Antoine Griezmann with Kylian Mpabbe and Thomar Lemar providing support down the wings.
Potential France starting XI: Lloris; Mendy, Varane, Umtiti, Sidibe; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Mbappe, Lemar, Griezmann.
Games don’t come any bigger than this for Australia and they will be punching well above their weight against a talented France side.
While putting a troubled World Cup qualification campaign behind them with positive results in recent friendlies, the Socceroos face an almighty task to escape Group C.
With Denmark and Peru awaiting them, Australia cannot afford a heavy defeat against France and will be up against it to keep a rampaging French outfit at bay.
After a poor defensive display against Hungary in their final hit out, the green and gold must learn quickly from those mistakes to ensure the scoreline doesn’t become lopsided.
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Unlike Australia, the Les Bleus breezed through qualifying for Russia, losing just one game and conceding only six goals.
Deschamps’ side do however enter this game after only salvaging a 1-1 draw with the US in their final friendly before the World Cup, as the Americans showed the French aren’t invincible.
Whether the Socceroos can do the same, only time will tell with this Group C opener set to pave the way for a fascinating World Cup campaign for both these sides.