Verdict: France win
Best Odds: 4/11
Desperate to open this year’s World Cup adventure with an early flurry in Al Wakrah, France will meet Australia on Tuesday night.
Starting with France, while Les Blues might be desperate to defend their world crown in the Middle East next month, they do have the feel of a side seeking an early statement on Tuesday night. Enduring what was a Nations League nightmare this year, it is no secret that Didier Deschamps finds real pressure on his shoulders. Although the European giants might have just about clung to their League A status during September’s international break, they did pick up just a single victory from any of their six appearances. Signing off their pre-World Cup preparations with a 2-0 loss away at Denmark on September 25th, France have shown some recent issues in the final third. Suffering more injury heartbreak over the past week and watching both Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku withdraw for their squad due to injury issues, Deschamps’ squad will know the importance of finding an early boost in Al Wakrah.
Along with both Benzema and Nkunku who withdrew earlier in the week, France will also be without the midfield duo of Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante this month.
However, enjoying what has been another free-scoring purple patch since opening the 2022/23 campaign, PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe will spearhead Les Bleus’ charge on Tuesday night. Tottenham keeper Huge Lloris will start between the sticks and lead Deschamps’ side out here.
As for Australia, although Graham Arnold’s side might know that they need a minor miracle if they’re to find a route out of Group D this year, the Socceroos will find the mood in their camp at a red-hot high. Picking up a famous penalties victory against Peru back on June 13th as they punched their World Cup ticket, the one-time Sydney boss has seen his side win each of their last five matchups across all competitions. However, while Australia might be desperate to spring a major World Cup upset on Tuesday night, they will know that they face a huge task here. Suffering a 2-1 loss when they last faced off against the defending world champions out in Russia during the group stage four years ago, it should be noted that Arnold’s side have lost back-to-back meetings against France by an aggregate score of 8-1.
Australia have confirmed that Hibernian striker Martin Boyle has withdrawn from their squad due to an ongoing knee injury.
Despite struggling to get much match fitness over recent weeks, Stoke defender Harry Souttar has been given the green light to feature on Tuesday night. Former Brighton and Arsenal keeper Mathew Ryan will start between the sticks here.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides last faced off four years ago out in Russia, France picked up a 2-1 victory during the group stages.
- Les Bleus have secured back-to-back victories against Australia by an aggregate score of 8-1.
- However, Australia open this year’s World Cup adventure in the midst of a five-match winning run across all formats.
- PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe has bagged 19 goals across all competitions since opening the 2022/23 campaign.
- The Socceroos have seen each of their previous eight appearances across all competitions finish with under 3.5 goals.
Enduring what was a very public Nations League struggle this year, there is no doubt that France will be looking to lay down an early marker on Tuesday night. While Les Blues might have seen both Benzema and Nkunku withdraw from their squad due to injury issues over the past week, the defending champions do have a string of superstars in their squad. With Mbappe already mustering 19 strikes across all formats since opening the 2022/23 campaign, the PSG icon will spearhead France’s charge in the Middle East. Although Australia might open their World Cup adventure enjoying an eye-catching five-match winning run, they will face a tough test here. Suffering a 2-1 loss when they faced off against Deschamps’ side out in Russia four years ago, we’re backing a similar outcome here.
Verdict: France win
Best Odds: 4/11