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Favorites France take on confident Socceroos in Group C opener

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The Europeans have the upper hand on the AFC representatives in the fixture. 

On paper the fixture looks like a clear mismatch as one of the tournament favourites France against underdogs Australia. Didier Deschamps and his men will be desperate to start strongly as a lot of expectations remain on their shoulders.

On the other hand, Bert van Marwijk's men will brace for their biggest challenge in the group, with matches against Peru and Denmark lined up in the days ahead.

About the teams

France boss Deschamps has a lot to worry about as his squad looks very balanced and selecting the starting XI will be a welcome headache to have. Captain Hugo Lloris will look to lead his side to a routine victory to start with as the Premier League duo of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante are expected to start in midfield. The French defence is also well covered with the La Liga pair of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti.

Watch the French squad in their first training session in Russia

The forward line will be lead by Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, with the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Lemar and Florian Thauvin Deschamps have enough options for the flanks on both sides.

The Socceroos will be battling a lot above their weight against a highly-talented French side and their Dutch tactician will look to play safe in their first encounter. The Aussies will favour more of a defensive formation, as starting off with a heavy defeat will be the last thing the side from Down Under would want having been placed in a tough group.



Watch Tim Cahill talk in the pre-match press conference

Matt Ryan is likely to start in goal and their captain Mile Jedinak will look to marshall the backline against the likes of Griezmann, Mbappe and others. Bundesliga star Mathew Leckie and Huddersfield Town midfielder Aron Mooy are likely to start in midfield.

19-year old Melbourne City attacking midfielder, Daniel Arzani and the highly-experienced Tim Cahill may find themselves on the bench, as the lanky forward Tomi Juric is expected to start alongside Jackson Irvine, allowing the Socceroos to hold up the play and somewhat neutralise the French onslaught.

Venue

The Kazan Arena will host six games in the auspicious World Cup event along with the opening clash between France and Australia. The home stadium of Russian side Rubin Kazan houses a 45,000 spectators, with a mammoth outdoor LED screen, the largest in Europe also in place.


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Expected Lineups

France (4-3-3)

Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Mendy; Tolisso, Kante, Pogba; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe.

Australia (4-2-3-1)

Ryan; Risdon, Sainsbury, Jedinak, Behich; Luongo, Mooy; Leckie, Irvine, Kruse; Juric.

Prediction

The match looks likely to be a routine win for France, as Australia are coming on the back of a very troublesome qualifying campaign. But, with that said, France have always been slow starters as Les Blues take their own sweet time to settle in and get going.

The Socceroos have a formidable starting lineup but countering the French firepower will be an uphill task. If they manage to keep their defensive shape, which will be put to test in the very first match, they may end up with a respectable result. But, the French are clear favourites to win the opening bout.

Khel Now Predicts

France 2-0 Australia

Published: Fri Jun 15, 2018 04:19 PM IST

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