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World Cup champions France kick off their defence against minnows Australia
France to win 3-0
Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Al Wakrah, Al Janoub StadiumBet Now
France have been handed the task of playing Australia to kick off their World Cup defence, having lifted the trophy in fine fashion four years ago.
On paper, France has a phenomenal squad of players to choose from, arguably the most well-rounded and star-studded of any nation at the competition.
However, we know from previous international tournaments that the French don’t always click as they should. There have been one or two injuries to overcome and a sense that all is not quite rosy in the camp.
As for Australia, they will be looking to improve upon their finish in the last three World Cups, which was to go out in the group stage.
This time around is no different in the sense that they are not expected to progress to the knockout phase, but can at least shape how the rest of the group looks with its results.
FIFA Ranking: 4
Predicted Finish: Quarter Finals
Reasons to be cheerful:
Have arguably the best squad at the tournament
Australia shouldn’t present too many problems
Reasons to be fearful:
Injury concerns and talks of unsettled players is slightly concerning
Don’t always perform well in successive tournaments
France’s last six World Cup finishes look like this: Champions, Group Stage, Runners-up, Group Stage, Quarter Finals, Champions.
There is very little in between winning the tournament and crashing out early. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for France, considering that they won the competition four years ago.
Kylian Mbappe, one of the stars of his generation, has reportedly been unsettled at his club, PSG, this season. The likes of Raphael Varane and Christopher Nkunku have suffered injuries (the latter heading out of the squad).
There is still a lot that this French team needs to prove to show that it’ll be one of the favourites for the tournament. They have the quality to win the group, but it’s hard to predict their fate afterwards.
With an embarrassment of riches across the pitch, they should win this game comfortably.
Star Man – Kylian Mbappe
Continues to excel at every level he plays at. He has 19 goals already this season for PSG, and 28 in 58 appearances for France.
FIFA Ranking: 38
Predicted Finish: Group Stage
Reasons to be cheerful
Are an experienced World Cup country
Became first nation to win 11 consecutive World Cup qualifying games
Reasons to be fearful
Lacking top level club experience among the squad
Record against top sides is poor
It is perhaps harsh to label Australia as the whipping boys, but they are the lowest ranked team in Group D and one of the lowest ranked in the tournament.
Unlike in previous tournaments, when they possessed Australian legends like Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer, they now have very few individuals who have played at a high level for their club.
This showed in games against better opponents during qualifying. They became the first country ever to win 11 consecutive qualifying games, although that fell apart when they faced some of the bigger nations.
You feel that this will also be the case against the likes of France and Denmark, who they face in Group D. If they can claim a surprising win against either of those, then they have a chance of progressing.
That’s a big if, however.
Star Man – Ajdin Hrustic
The young attacking midfielder has only 12 caps to his name, but is one of the country’s most talented. One of the few to have played at a good level in Europe too, for Eintracht Frankfurt.
France to score two or more goals
Australia will struggle to trouble France’s goalkeeper
Mbappe to score
There are few games quite a one-sided, on paper at least, as this one.
The Australian team has little in the way of star quality, although they will bring a determination and team spirit that will win fans throughout the group stage.
But there is no substitute for sheer footballing ability, and France have that in an abundance.
If Mbappe and co. are on form, there should be a few goals in this one.
France to win 3-0
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