FRANCE v AUSTRALIA
Live on BBC One. Saturday, June 16. Kick-off 11am
FRANCE boast an embarrassment of riches but the pressure is on boss Didier Deschamps to deliver the glory they’re capable of.
A side featuring superstar talent such as Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe should be a fearsome force yet they don’t always convince as a collective and are fourth favourites for glory in Russia at 15-2 with Black Type.
Deschamps led the French to the quarter-finals of the last World Cup followed by the final of Euro 2016 on home soil and this tournament may be his last chance to prove he can land a big one.
Draws in qualifying with Luxembourg and Belarus as well as defeat in Sweden showed Les Bleus can be got at and they’ll be determined to make an early statement of intent here against the stubborn but limited Socceroos.
Australia will pack their defence and rely on the likes of Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak in the engime room to knock the French out of their rhythm while hoping the craft of Celtic's Tom Rogic can unlock the backline.
The Aussies failed to win a game at Brazil 2014 and will see this opener as a free hit, with their following Group C matches against Peru and Denmark more realistic chances of points.
Deschamps’ side should take victory pretty comfortably and although their defence isn't always rock solid, I'm backing them to shut out the powder-puff Aussies.
Griezmann and Giroud were Les Bleus' top scorers in qualifying with four goals apiece but fellow frontman Mbappe can get them off the mark here. The wonderkid heads into the tournament with three goals in the last four friendlies and his pace and talent can terrorise the Socceroos.
The Aussies may take a while to be broken down so most goals second half looks likely as does over five France corners considering they racked up nine in each outing against similarly limited opposition the USA and Ireland in recent friendlies.
- France win to nil (10-11, Boylesports)
- Mbappe (4-1, bet365)
- France 3, Australia 0 (7-1, Paddy Power)
- France win
- Over 5 France corners
- Most goals second half
- Over 1 Australia cards
- (5-1, bet365)