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World Cup Predictions: France vs Australia

France will look to leave their injury woes behind and start their title defence in an emphatic fashion when they lock horns with Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium.

While France came to Qatar with a view to becoming the first team since Brazil to win successive World Cups, the Australians will try to arrest their unfortunate streak of group-stage eliminations and return to the knockout stages for the first time since 2006.

France are not entering the fray under the best of circumstances.

Karim Benzema became the latest heavyweight omission from the Les Bleus World Cup squad as he picked up a thigh injury in training.

The 22 Ballon d’Or joined the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, and Christopher Nkunku in the injury absentees list.

France’s Patchy form

France’s recent form have been far from impressive as well.

They could not win in five of their last six matches going into the World Cup, lost the Nations League and barely survived relegation, and got eliminated from the Euro 2020 round of 16.

But France still have enough quality in their squad to retain their favourites tag in the competition. So, they will eye an easy win against Australia to get their World Cup defence mission underway.

However, France should be wary of history. In recent World Cups, reigning World Cup champions have failed miserably in their title-defending campaigns.

Four of the last five defending champions have crashed out of the group stages. France themselves had that bitter experience in 2002. Moreover, no defending champions managed to win their first match since 2010.

But Australia will not feel that history is on their side when they take on the current world champions in their opening match.

The Socceroos did not win their first match in the competition since 2014, and they have only one win against European teams in seven attempts.

Graham Arnold’s side ensured tickets for the Qatar World Cup with a playoff penalty win over Peru. Australia come on the back of two friendly wins over neighbours New Zealand, but they would know that they will need to pull off something special to grind out a favourable result against France.

Australia met France in the group stages four years ago.

They were on the brink of securing a historic result as the scores were locked 1-1 into the 80th minute. But an Aziz Behich own goal deprived the Aussies of a seemingly deserved share in the spoils.

Team News

Didier Deschamps has declared that he will not bring in a replacement for Benzema.

So, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, and Ousmane Dembélé could form the French frontline against Australia.

Deschamps might feel it’s too early for Raphaël Varane, who has just returned to training, and hand over the keys to the backline to Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté.

Australia might not get the services of Martin Boyle as the striker struggles with a knee problem.

Harry Souttar is ready to make his return to the Australian backline after returning from a lengthy ACL injury layoff. But, Graham Arnold might choose Bailey Wright over the Stoke City defender.

Our Prediction

France have been struggling lately with injuries and poor form. But the balance of this tie still tips heavily towards the current world champions.

We foresee a 2-0 win for France.

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