FIFA World Cup holders France will begin their title defence this Tuesday when they face Australia in the Al Janoub Stadium.
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium (Al Wakrah)
France won just one of their six UEFA Nations League A games as favourites (D2, L3).
They have kept just one clean sheet in their last six games.
Kylian Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals (G7, A4) during his last six games for club-side PSG.
Australia have not conceded 3+ goals against any opposition in their last 39 matches dating back to March 2018.
The Socceroos are the fourth-highest-ranked team from Asia.
They have won their last five games.
Head to head
France has two wins, one draw and one loss in four games against Australia.
Latest performances in all competitions
For a second successive edition of the men’s FIFA World Cup, France will begin their World Cup campaign by playing Australia after both sides met in their 2018 opening game.
Les Bleus won the game 2-1 on their way to a successful campaign that saw them beat Croatia in the final to lift their second World Cup trophy. They come into this tournament seeking to become the first back-to-back winners since Brazil managed the feat in 1962 and continue Europe’s domination of this event.
However, their lead-up to this tournament has been increasingly disastrous, with poor form and injuries to key players putting the spanner in the works of World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps. The World Cup holders won just one of their six UEFA Nations League A games as favourites (D2, L3), narrowly missing relegation from their group. As a result, they dropped to number four in the world rankings.
Injuries to 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, goalkeeper Mike Maignan, and RB Leipzig hotshot Christopher Nkunku have also weakened France. However, they remain one of the favourites to retain this trophy.
The goal of reaching the last four was set by FA President Noël Le Graët, who publicly declared that a contract extension for manager Didier Deschamps “will be up to him” if France make the semi-finals or better. Deschamps will be hoping for a better campaign from his talented side after France produced the worst title defence in World Cup history when failing to score a single goal during the 2002 edition (D1, L2).
Possible France starting line-up
Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembélé, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.
Doubtful: Raphael Varane
Australia travelled to Doha in high spirits after winning their last five games.
This is the second straight World Cup in which Australia had to qualify via the inter-confederation playoffs, which, having sealed their place here thanks to a penalty shootout win over Peru.
Graham Arnold’s men used to be one of the most respected Asian teams but have suffered some decline in recent years. In June 2018, they were the highest-ranked Asian nation (#34) but came into this tournament as the fourth-highest team from the Asian Confederation (#38), illustrating their overall slide in world football.
Although this will be the first World Cup for Arnold, who has been in charge for four years, he has plenty of experience as an assistant during the Socceroos’ 2006 and 2010 editions.
The coach hopes to repay the faith shown in him by the Australian FA, who supported him despite some intense calls for his sacking in April following a dreadful end to their Asian qualification phase (W1, D3, L2). A win here will set them up for a more successful campaign than last time when they failed to win any of their three group games (D1, L2).
Possible Australia starting line-up
Matthew Ryan; Nathaniel Atkinson, Milos Degenek, Harry Souttar, Aziz Behich; Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy; Jamie Maclaren, Mitchell Duke, Mathew Leckie.
|France to win
|Australia to win
France 2-0 Australia