The final match of an exhausting day at the FIFA World Cup on Tuesday sees the defending champions France beginning their title defence when they go up against Australia in the second game in Group D.
These two met in Russia four years ago when a late own goal gave France a 2-1 win so Australia will know they can compete with the world champions. The French will be eager to make a winning start to their title defence here.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the BBC 1 channel in the UK. The build-up to this one begins at 6.30pm with the kick off coming at 7pm.
The last time France went to a World Cup as defending champions they were out before the knockout stage begun. It would be a huge shock if that happened this time around but I’m sure it will be referenced ahead of this opening game for them. A win here will settle any doubts they have in that regard but they go into this tournament not in the best run of form and missing three players who you would have thought would be important for them.
France will be playing under the pressure of being emphatic favourites in this match but that is nothing new. They have been exposed defensively a fair bit though and they could do with a dominant performance at the back here. Even allowing for the players they are missing in the middle of the park and in front of them, they still look like they have enough in their ranks to get the job done comfortably here if they keep the back door shut.
We are getting used to Australia being at these big tournaments but we are still waiting for them to make a truly major impression at one of them. They probably haven’t got the draw in this competition to make a significant impact but the flip side of that is that they have nothing to lose and can just give this a good go. They came through the play-off to get here so they have the confidence of winning huge matches under their belt.
I wouldn’t expect Australia to be gung ho in this match but at the same time I’m not sure it would serve them any purpose to put men behind the ball and see what happens because the quality France have will surely break them down at some point. Interestingly, Australia have named eight players who could be classed as forwards in their squad which suggests they might have a more attacking approach then we might otherwise suspect.
OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH 888SPORT AND BET £10 TO GET £30 IN FREE BETS PLUS A £10 CASINO BONUS! PERFECT OFFER TO USE ON THE WORLD CUP! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO JOIN. USE CODE 30F. NEW ACCOUNTS ONLY. 18+ T&Cs apply (See image for significant terms). Gamble Aware.
With Karim Benzema ruled out of the tournament at the last minute, Olivier Giroud is expected to lead the line for France in this match. All eyes will be on the team sheet to see if Raphael Varane is on it or whether Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate gets the nod.
Stoke City defender Harry Souttar will be assessed by the Socceroos ahead of the game. Playmaker Ajdin Krustic is also a doubt for the opening match while Hibernian forward Martin Boyle had to pull out of the tournament at the last minute.
It is hard to see anything but a France win here even with the way this tournament is beginning to go, but they rarely look fantastic under Didier Deschamps unless a team force them to look great. If we go back to the last World Cup the only times they looked particularly attractive were when Argentina forced them to be in the round of 16 and in the final when Croatia were their own worst enemy to some extent.
I don’t expect Australia to make France look good here but I do expect the defending champions to get the job done. France look a little light overall in the centre of the park for my money and you would imagine that the Australian defence will be able to handle Olivier Giroud so it might take some Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann magic to win this one for ‘Les Bleus’. None of the France group games in Russia went over 3.5 goals and the only one in the Euros had three penalties in it. I expect France to win but exceeding 3.5 goals is certainly not guaranteed.
Back France to win and under 3.5 goals for a 3/10 stake at 1.90 with Betway