World Cup Preview – Group C | France v Australia – Peru v Denmark

Group C kicks-off on Saturday with World Cup favourites France taking on Australia, and Denmark tackle Peru.

France and Australia meet in the early kick-off in Kazan, with Didier Deschamps looking to get off to a good start but he is not taking the Socceroos threat lightly.

“They’re well organised but they’re not happy just to defend, the new coach obviously put a lot of emphasis on the back line because they used to be very attacking, and they were caught off balance sometimes,” he said.

“But they have the players, they’re not necessarily massive players, they create, they play.”

Australia have Dutchman Bert van Marwijk in charge having only being appointed in January, and he knows the task ahead of his players – but he is encouraging them not to be in awe of France’s superstars.

When suddenly (Paul) Pogba is standing in front of you or (Antoine) Griezmann and (Kylian) Mbappe … you must not be impressed,” van Marwijk said.

“You can have respect. But you must not be impressed. You must be yourself.”

The second match in the group sees Denmark and Peru meet in Saransk. with the South Americans set to play their first World Cup match since 1982.

Denmark are led by veteran Norwegian Age Hareide and he has been full of praise in the build-up to the game for his star man Christian Eriksen, although he also insists that they are not too dependent on the Tottenham man.

“It’s not quite true that Denmark is over-dependent on Eriksen,” he said. “We have a team that works for him but he also works for us. It’s not a one-man show.”

“That is the best combination. Christian is a part of the team but he is also a star, a fantastic football player,” said Hareide before a training session in sunny Anapa near the Black Sea coast.

“He can observe space quicker than anybody else, that is his key value for the team.”

Peru coach is Ricardo Gareca, and he also talked about Eriksen and he insists his men are relishing the prospect of facing him.

“Eriksen is obviously a key player, he is very well known. We have to be able to face players like him,” Gareca  said.

“But we also have players of that level. While he is not the only player we have to concentrate on, I think facing players like him will allow us to grow and learn.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

France 11:00 Australia
Kazan Arena, Kazan
Live on BBC

France have a concern over right back Djibril Sidibe, but they are hoping he can overcome a knee problem. Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard is on stand-by to deputise. Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann are set to start as a front-three. Australia could drop captain Mile Jerdinak in favour of Massimo Luongo in central midfield.

France: Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Mendy, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Djibril Sidibe, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud

Australia: Mathew Ryan, Aziz Behich, Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Josh Risdon, Aaron Mooy, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Robbie Kruse, Andrew Nabbout, Mathew Leckie

KEY FACT:France won 6-0 in their last meeting in 2013 
Match odds from bet365: FRANCE 1/4 DRAW 13/2 AUSTRALIA 10/1
bet365 Pick: France to win and under 2.5 goals @15/8
ANDY SAYS: I don’t see France being troubled here, indeed they could dish out a lesson to Australia…4-0
GRAEME SAYS: It is hard to imagine France slipping up here, and I don’t think they will…3-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Kylian Mbappe – Is there a better young player in the world? No, and he will prove it in Russia.

Peru 17:00 Denmark
Mordovia Arena, Saransk
Live on BBC

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero will be hoping to start after only being cleared of a drugs ban last month. Denmark have a settled side and the only real issue is who stars up-front – either Nicolai Jorgensen or  Kasper Dolberg.

Peru: Pedro Galesse, Luis Advincula, Alberto Rodriguez, Christian Ramos, Miguel Trauco, Renato Tapia, Yoshimar Yoton, Edison Flores, Christian Cueva, Jefferson Farfan, Paolo Guerrero

Denmark: Kasper Schmeichel, Jens Stryger Larsen, Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjaer, Henrik Dalsgaard, William Kvist, Tomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen, Pione Sisto, Nicolai Jorgensen, Yurary Poulsen

KEY FACT: The sides have never met before in an international match before
Match odds from bet365: PERU 9/4 DRAW 23/10 DENMARK 7/5
bet365 Pick: Both Teams To Score @19/20
ANDY SAYS: Hard to predict Peru, but they don’t look to strong so you have to go with Denmark…0-2
GRAEME SAYS: I think Denmark could do something in Russia and they will start with a big win…1-3
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Christian Eriksen – He has everything in his game to become one of the world’s best.

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