AFTER the World Cup finally gets underway, every team in the tournament is looking forward to their first game in Qatar – with perhaps the most pressure on holders France.
The exhausted world champions meet Australia in Group D to avoid a major upset.
The winners of the 2018 World Cup will be desperate to retain their title despite a host of big names standing on the sidelines for the tournament.
These two teams faced each other in the group stage at the World Cup in Russia.
France emerged 2-1 winners as both teams converted penalties and were separated only by an Aziz Behich own goal.
Here, SunSport take a look at whether that fate could change when they lock horns again at the 40,000-seat Al Janoub Stadium.
How did you get there?
France: Qualified 1st in their qualifying group.
They didn’t lose a single game and led the group with six points and a goal difference of +15.
Australia: The Socceroos were one of the last teams to qualify for the World Cup.
They only confirmed their ticket to Qatar in June after beating Saudi Arabia and then Peru in the World Cup play-off matches.
what is the form
France: Les Blues have been in so-so form for most of the year, winning just three of their eight games in 2022 while Didier Deschamps is experimenting with a new formation.
They lost their last UEFA Nations League game 2-0 to Denmark, narrowly avoiding relegation to the second division.
Australia: The Aussies were one of the last teams to make it to the World Cup but have been developing strongly of late despite a rough start to 2022.
They have won every one of their last five games, including both World Cup qualifiers and two friendlies against New Zealand.
Who are the managers?
France: Didier Deschamps has been at the helm of the French team for a full decade now.
He took over in 2012 and has overseen the building of a global superpower – much like the French team he played for that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship.
Under his stewardship, France made it to the final of Euro 2016 before winning the 2018 World Cup in dominating fashion.
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Australia: Graham Arnold will give away some experience against Deschamps as he heads into his first World Cup with Australia.
He was named for his second stint shortly after the 2018 World Championship and has held the Australian record of reaching the World Championship on every opportunity since 2006.
In 2019, Australia were eliminated from the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup despite being the reigning champions.
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Who are the Star Players?
France: KYLIAN MBAPPE is likely to grab the headlines again as he takes on an even more prominent role in Didier Deschamp’s squad than in 2018.
The PSG superstar was France’s top scorer alongside Antoine Griezmann in Russia.
And with Karim Benzema left out of the squad, the onus lies once again on Mbappe to score the goals for Les Blues.
It’s really a testament to the quality of the players from France that despite the absence of a number of big names such as Ballon d’Or winner Benzema, as well as midfield pillars Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, they still have a squad that ranks above quality only so brims.
Australia: AARON MOOY will probably be the man who will try to lead Australia to the finals.
The Socceroos have only made it through the group stage of the World Cup once – in 2006 – and the difficult group they ended up in makes their hopes of doing so again look bleak.
But former Huddersfield midfielder Mooy will ensure Australia are both strong in defense and attacking with creativity.
And his ability to find space in midfield and obliterate threats will be crucial against a redesigned French midfield.
What is head to head?
France wins: 3
Australia wins: 1
Which TV station is showing the game?
BBC One will broadcast the game at 7pm on Tuesday.
Draw on 26.5
Considering the recent encounters between these two teams and their respective recent accomplishments, there is only one truly expected path.
That being said, Australia will be no pushover for France and will be more than capable of causing a stir when Mbappe and co aren’t at 100 per cent.
FRANCE 3-1 AUSTRALIA
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6734444/france-vs-australia-world-cup-team-news-prediction/ France vs Australia – World Cup Group D: Team news, how they fared & predictions as reigning champions hit with injuries