WORLD CUP PREVIEW

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

WORLD CUP PREVIEW Tues: France v Australia

Group D starts with what seems to be a mismatch with France v Australia, but as recent winners of the World Cup can attest, nobody should be underestimated when you’re the reigning champions.

Preparations for Les Bleus’ World Cup have been pretty disastrous – Tournament ending injuries to Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema before a ball has been kicked in anger, the months of rumours and sensationalist headlines about Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe’s presence – and France’s glut of attacking riches – will at least help cover the loss of Benzema but the absence of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante in midfield is far more serious and defender Raphael Varane has been out of action since suffering an injury during our 1-1 draw at Chelsea last month

There’s also the worry of shocking form on the pitch. France finished third behind Croatia and Denmark in the Nations League, winning just one of their six games and needing a win against Austria to prevent themselves from being relegated – and there’s no doubt they arrive under a cloud.

France v Australia
FIFA World Cup 2022 Group D
19:00 BBC One / BBC iPlayer / BBC Sport Website

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD-TO-HEAD
JUN 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP France 2-1 Australia
OCT 2013 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 6-0 Australia
NOV 2001 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Australia 1-1 France
JUN 2001 FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP Australia 1-0 France
MAY 1994 KIRIN JAPAN CUP Australia 0-1 France

FRANCE
SEP 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Denmark 2-0 France
SEP 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE France 2-0 Austria
JUN 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE France 0-1 Croatia
JUN 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Austria 1-1 France
JUN 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Croatia 1-1 France

AUSTRALIA
SEP 2022 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY New Zealand 0-2 Australia
SEP 2022 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Australia 1-0 New Zealand
JUN 2022 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS Australia 0(5)-0(4) Peru (Penalties)
JUN 2022 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS United Arab Emirates 1-2 Australia
JUN 2022 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Australia 2-1 Jordan

Australia’s journey to the finals has been a dramatic one – they beat Peru on penalties with goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne saving a penalty to clinch a 5-4 victory for his side after being introduced as a substitute at the end of a goalless 120 minutes – and to reach that stage alone they had to squeeze past the United Arab Emirates, with Ajdin Hrustic scoring an 84th minute winner.

Before that Australia had finished third in the second stage of qualifying, scoring the most goals (15) but finishing well behind Saudi Arabia and Japan (eight points and seven points behind respectively), and this looks to be a big step up in class for the Socceroos.

Manager Graham Arnold – who took over from previous boss Bert van Marwijk after Australia’s group-stage exit at Russia 2018 – has plenty of experience at his disposal, but they arguably lack star quality. Ajdin Hrustic won the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt and moved to Hellas Verona but he’s played just five matches this season and much will depend on Celtic’s Aaron Mooy and Jackson Irvine (Hibernian) to provide quality in midfield.

Few of Australia’s players would be described as top flight – seven ply their trade in the SPL but the majority of the squad plays in the A-League or English Championship – and a lack of top-flight experience could be exposed in the tournament.

Neither of these sides comes here in brilliant form but France – for all the questions over their prospects – should have too much quality for the Australians if putting their best foot forward. If Aurelin Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot can tick in midfield, then any supply to the French forward line should give them every chance of covering a one goal handicap with starsports.bet.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI


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PROFIT/LOSS (WORLD CUP 2022): PROFIT 7.54 points (after matches on Mon 21 Nov)
(Will include returns from both the OUTRIGHT and SPECIALS previews too)


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