|(Image courtesy of SEKDRIVE)
This game looks to be an interesting one to kick things off in Group C, with France seeming like clear cut favourites to do the job and bring home the three points. France will be eager to build from recent international success, coupled with the immense strength in depth they have, and get things off to a flyer. Australia on the other hand, have a squad that doesn’t nearly compare to that of France, but nevertheless there is experience and quality in the team, with some notable performances in the previous World Cup and other feats.
PREDICTED LINE UPS:
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris. An outstanding keeper and captain of the side. He can provide structure and safety to the team’s defence, allowing the outfield players to play confidently and freely. His quality speaks for itself, from his stats and performances throughout the past years. It’s pretty safe to say that the Spurs keeper will get his 99th international cap.
Defenders: Benjamin Mendy (LB), Samuel Umtiti and Raphaël Varane (CBs), Benjamin Pavard (RB).
One thing that stands out in this defence is the youth. Each player in their young 20s, I feel this back four can produce the quality and keep the tempo high throughout the game. Umtiti and Varane are experienced centre halves in La Liga, playing consistently and can really put a shift in. Though Mendy hasn’t featured a lot in City’s plans, he’s a top player with bags of pace and good passing ability, as shown by his stint with Monaco. Pavard has been a nifty young player for VfB Stuttgart, winning 3 aerial battles per game and having a pass success rate of 81.3% in all comps. He’s versatile too.
Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi (CDM), N’Golo Kanté (CM) and Paul Pogba (CM).
This midfield trio is just surreal. All three players are complete and well rounded players, with quality in all aspects of their game. Matuidi will look to keep things under control, sitting in a deeper position, whereas Kanté and Pogba will have the space to run from box to box, picking passes and also getting in the way of the opposition.
Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (CF), Kylian Mbappé (RF) and Ousmane Dembelé (LF).
Energy, vibrance, charisma and clinical ability. I pray this front three delivers on its hype. With the pace to get in behind the backline of Australia and incisiveness to latch onto any through balls, these three can wreak all sorts of havoc in the final third. I’d have Griezmann in at centre forward and Dembelé and Mbappé up top as right and left forwards. I’ve left Giroud out as I feel he can come on as a useful sub late in the game.
(Image from Dream Team)
Goalkeeper: Matt Ryan of Brighton and Hove Albion. The 26 year old has kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League, helping the Seagulls stay up, and this form will only boost his confidence and performance.
Defenders: Aziz Behich (LB), Miloš Degenek and Trent Sainsbury (CBs) and Josh Risdon (RB).
The two centre backs have experience internationally, with 53 apps between them, and will have a real job on their hands trying to keep the French attack quiet. The left back in Aziz is a long serving player of the Turkish Super Lig and has 20 odd international apps too, while Risdon has been playing long term in Australia’s A League. Both will need to prove themselves against the likes of Dembelé and Mbappé
Midfielders: Mile Jedinak (CM), Aaron Mooy (CM) and Tom Rogic (CAM).
Jedinak, the skipper, has been playing in the Premier League for a long time now, and recently joined Villa in 2016 in the Championship. A knowledgable and solid midfielder. Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield seems to have played a lot in recent times and hasn’t done too bad. Rogic, representing Celtic since 2013, has eight goals and nine assists in all comps in the season gone by.
Forwards: Matthew Leckie, Robbie Kruse and Tomi Juric.
The two wingers in Leckie and Kruse have been ticking along respectively, the latter scoring seven times and assisting six in all comps, with the former netting six and providing three. Tomi Juric, the Aussie number 9 in the Swiss league, has done well with his club FC Luzen, scoring nine and assisting six. Everton legend Tim Cahill, the Socceroos’ most prolific striker, I’d say with his age of 38 is ok to start on the bench and then come on and provide some impetus. Flashbacks to that sublime volley against the Dutch in 2014 spring to mind.
Tim Cahill has 50 international goals. (Image from BBC Sport)
France 3-0 Australia. I see no issues with France’s defence against this side which can only suffer in comparison. Up top, the French forwards are just too good to be kept at bay by the Aussies. I’m going to say Griezmann with the double and Giroud to come on and score the third.