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france18The first of four matches taking place in World Cup 2018 on Saturday is the opening match in Group C which sees a well fancied France side clash with Australia in Kazan

 

 

 

Group C also includes Peru and Denmark and you can read our outright preview for this quartet here.

 

France:

France came through what was arguably the toughest of the European qualifying groups finishing 4 points clear of Sweden who subsequently franked the form in coming through the play offs with the Netherlands and Bulgaria among those who missed out.

In their most recent major tournament finals France missed out narrowly on glory, they hosted Euro 2016 and went unbeaten all the way to the final where they lost (1-0) to Portugal in extra time.

In the 2014 World Cup finals France came through their group with wins over Honduras and Switzerland and a draw with Ecuador. They beat Nigeria in the first knockout round before bowing out to Germany (1-0) in the quarter finals.

Friendly international form this year started with a 3-2 defeat to Colombia in March but since then they reeled off wins over Russia (3-1), Ireland (2-0) and Italy (3-1) before playing out a 1-1 draw with USA.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris St-Germain).

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).

 

Australia:

Australia look to have landed in a tough quartet and after finishing third in their qualifying group they had to fall back on the play offs, beating Syria 3-2 and Honduras (3-1) on aggregate to secure their place in these finals.

That would seemingly give them plenty to find to be a force although in the Confederations Cup in Russia 12 months ago they were not disgraced, finishing third in their group behind Germany and Chile. They lost 3-2 to the Germans in that tournament before playing out 1-1 draws with Chile and Cameroon.

In the 2014 World Cup finals Australia lost all 3 of their group matches, going down against strong opposition Chile (3-1), Netherlands (3-2) and Spain (3-0).

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk).

Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).

Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall).

Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian).

 

Recent Head to Head

11/10/13 INTF France 6-0 Australia

 

The Betting - Bet Now

Match Result:

France 1 / 4

Draw 19/4

Australia 12/1

Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change

 

Verdict:

Just making a positive start is all that matters but I reckon this is a chance for France to more than ease themselves into the tournament. They look a very different animal to the side that did themselves no favours on and off the pitch in South Africa 2010, they improved in the 2014 finals and I think they will go deep into the knockout rounds this time around.

Level stakes on France to win 2-0 and 3-0 is my play.

 

Bets: Correct Score, France win 2-0 at 9/2 and 3-0 at 25/4

 

forumRemember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum