France was a popular option for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after their dominating performance in the 2014 World Cup.
On paper, they have a lineup that would make the majority of FIFA 23 players salivate with want. At least, they did so until the number of injuries started to increase.
The 2018 success-critical midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante have both been ruled out. In the days after the announcement of Didier Deschamps’ squad, two more key players have been forced to withdraw due to injury.
Even if the RB Leipzig attacker was unlikely to start, Christopher Nkunku’s absence was a setback. Nkunku’s 48 goal contributions (37 goals and 11 assists) in 2022 were second only to Kylian Mbappe’s 57 goal contributions (43 goals and 14 assists) among players from Europe’s top five leagues. Mbappe is a member of the French national squad.
Then there was Karim Benzema’s retirement, which was a significant event considering that the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner scored 44 goals in 46 games for Real Madrid in 2021-22, which contributed to the club’s La Liga and Champions League victories.
Nonetheless, if there is any nation capable of withstanding such a double assault, it would have to be France.
Mbappe will likely start the opening encounter against Australia either Olivier Giroud or Antoine Griezmann, depending on which of the two Deschamps selects to partner him. It seems likely that Deschamps will choose the same offensive trio he used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Giroud is currently just two goals behind Thierry Henry (51) for Les Bleus’ all-time record in goals scored.
During a press conference conducted on Friday, the Milan striker said, “Of course I have a personal incentive to beat [Henry], but our main purpose as a team is to advance as far as possible in the competition.”
To be successful, France will need to improve on their previous performance, since they have only won one of their last six UEFA Nations League matches between June and September (D2, L3).
Their first opponent is an Australian team that narrowly qualified for the Qatar tournament and only did so due to a stunning penalty shootout win against Peru in a play-off match.
Although dancing substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was the hero of the day, Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold will need inspiration from others if his team is to improve its World Cup record.
In 2006, when Arnold was Guus Hiddink’s assistant coach, they were the only team to go beyond the group stage. Prior to then, they were ousted from competition four out of five times in the group stage.
Only Bulgaria (12%; three of 26) has a poorer record than Australia among teams that have played 10 or more games in the finals (two of 16 wins). Australia has only won 13% of their World Cup matches (two of 16).
They have also suffered a blow due to injuries, as Martin Boyle has withdrew from the tournament due to his inability to recover from a knee injury. Arnold is certain that the 21-year-old winger for Melbourne City, Marco Tilio, will do well in his absence.
Arnold remarked, “Marco has done all required of him to be prepared for this event.” Marco has “accomplished every request made of him.” “He was a key member of our Tokyo 2020 Olympic squad, he has started the men’s season well in the A-League, and he is familiar with the national team set-up, so we are excited to see what he can offer to our group for the tournament,”
Beware Of These Players
Kylian Mbappe, from France
Losing players like Nkunku and Benzema is never a good thing, but the impact is mitigated when you still have access to perhaps the most exciting forward in world football.
Mbappe contributed significantly to France’s 2018 World Cup victory by scoring four goals in seven games. During the competition, the young French star not only became his country’s youngest-ever World Cup scorer (19 years and 183 days old), but also only the second teenager ever to score in a World Cup final, following in the footsteps of Pele, who did so in 1958 against Sweden.
In addition, he has been almost unstoppable for Paris Saint-Germain this season, as seen by the 19 goals he has scored in 20 appearances for the Ligue 1 champions.
Mbappe scores for Paris Saint-Germain.
Australia: Mat Ryan
Not only because the defending world champions are expected to give Australia a lot of shots, but also because Ryan has a great deal of experience, which this team sorely requires.
The former Valencia and Arsenal goalkeeper has seen little action for Copenhagen this season due to Kamil Grabara’s preference for the position. However, he did play in all 11 of Australia’s third- and fourth-round AFC World Cup qualifying matches.
In addition, Ryan will participate in the World Cup for the third time, making him the Australian goalkeeper with the most World Cup experience in history. Should he participate in all three of his team’s group games, he will equal Mark Bresciano and Tim Cahill for the most World Cup appearances by an Australian Socceroo with nine. This would make him the Socceroo who has appeared in the most World Cups in history.
Mat Ryan – Australia
It is hardly surprising that France is the clear favorite to win the first match.
Our very sophisticated system predicts that France has a 73.4% chance of winning the match outright, while Australia has just a 10.6% chance of accomplishing the same.
There is a 16% chance of a draw, which cannot be overlooked given that France is beset by injuries and is in questionable condition heading into Qatar.