Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The duel between France and Australia brings us a World Cup Classic, not because these two squads have many head-to-head duels but because they are the regular participants in the Tournament in last few decades. On Saturday we’re up to a treat having in mind that it’s a four-game day, meaning that the fun starts about noon (local time), and doesn’t end until 11.00 PM (local time). It’s Gallic Roosters vs. Socceroos time so let’s take a closer look at what to expect.
France vs. Australia
Three-Way: 1: France -435; X: +547 Draw; 2: Australia +1427
Spread -1.5: France -133; Australia +117
Total 2.5 goals: Over -116; Under -101
France might finally be up to their old self on the World Cup this summer. After an epic meltdown in South Africa eight years ago and underachievement in Brazil four years ago, the team looks like it got rid of the bad blood and all of the distractions that made them disappoint their fans throughout the last couple of years. The loss in the UEFA EURO Finals at their home pitch can’t actually be considered as a failure because second place in Europe is something that many teams can only dream of. Since 1998, and World Cup title, this could be the year when France does most on the big scene.
The reason for such optimistic forecast lies in France’s young and star-packed roster that looks terrifying. They probably posses the strongest midfield unit on the world, with the likes of Pogba, Kante and Tolisso and Australians will have their hands full trying to contain them, while organizing their own attack might be an impossible mission. Defensively, they are also covered in all positions with Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti holding the strings. Up front, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, and Kylian Mbappe will be terrorizing opponents’ defense. The fact that Ousmane Dembele will probably not be in the starting lineup says enough about their roster strength.
France is coming to the competition with three consecutive wins against Russia (3:1), Republic of Ireland (2:0) and Italy (3:1). Their last defeat took place in a friendly match against Colombia in March (2:3).
This will definitely be the last World Cup appearance for Australian soccer legend, Tim Cahill (105 caps for the national team, 50 goals scored), but we’ll see how much a 38-year old striker contribute. Australia has established themselves as a regular participant in last four World Cups, but the success rate on the tournament is constantly dropping down, as in Germany, 12 years ago they ended the competition at No. 16 spot (Round of 16), while four years ago in Brazil, they recorded all three defeats, ranking at No. 30 spot in the end.
They’ll face the biggest obstacle in this opening matchup against France, but if Bert van Marwijk can make his team play their game (strongly organized teamwork and lots of running), the might have a chance as their opponents are known to flop on the big stage openers. Besides Cahill, their biggest strength will be veterans like Mile Jedinak and Robbie Krusse. Also, much is expected from Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy.
Australia team showed some grit in the last couple of friendly duels when they managed to snatch a goalless draw with Colombia and humiliate the Czech Republic 4:0, meaning that the team might be timing their form in the right time.
Even though the Australians do have certain chances of not going out defeated from this one, anything except France’s victory would present a world-class upset. These two teams played three times so far and the record both squads managed to snatch one win while friendly matchup in 2001 ended with a 1:1 draw. Still, the most recent memory is a friendly duel in 2013 when France demolished Socceroos 6:0.