France v Peru: Varane and Les Bleus calm after unconvincing start
Raphael Varane insists France remain calm after their unconvincing win against Australia as they prepare to face Peru at the World Cup.
One of the World Cup favourites, France failed to shine but still recorded a 2-1 win over Australia to open their Group C campaign in Kazan last week.
Sluggish and underwhelming against a well-drilled Socceroos team who were unfortunate not to claim at least a point, France claimed won thanks to Antoine Griezmann's second-half penalty – awarded after a VAR review – and a late own goal.
Questions were raised after the victory and France centre-back Varane knows Didier Deschamps’ men will have to be at their best against Peru in Ekaterinburg on Thursday.
"Some things were not done that well [in the first match]," Varane told a news conference. "We know that we will have to defend with more intensity, but mostly defend together.
"We're still at the start of the competition. We shouldn't dramatise [the situation] even though we have to be aware of the things that didn't go so well during the last match.
"We've made our assessments. We have talked among players. We've talked to the coach. We know where we want to go for the next match."
France defender Benjamin Pavard also tried to dismiss concerns over the team’s performance, telling FIFA.com: "We don't feel any particular pressure. They lost their first game, so the pressure is on them."
Peru ended their 36-year World Cup absence in their opener but suffered a cruel 1-0 loss to Denmark.
The Peruvians missed a penalty and wasted countless opportunities as the South American nation were made to pay by the efficient Danes.
It was not the ideal way for Ricardo Gareca’s entertaining side to start the showpiece tournament but left-back Miguel Trauco remains confident in Peru's ability to compete against the world's best.
He said: "We have to correct the details that cost us defeat. Our greatest confidence is knowing that we play good football, and we can match any team."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
France – Kylian Mbappe
The Paris Saint-Germain sensation was kept quiet against Australia, though he was not the only Frenchman to struggle. With Peru's quick brand of football and their need for a result, the 19-year-old should have more space to attack.
Peru – Paolo Guerrero
Eligible to play in Russia having been initially suspended following a doping ban, Paolo Guerrero was surprisingly named on the bench against Denmark. Peru's all-time leading scorer and captain made an immediate impact once introduced, almost equalising. Expect the veteran striker to wreak havoc against the French.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- France and Peru's only previous encounter was a friendly in April 1982. The South American side won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.
- The last South American team to beat France at the World Cup was Argentina in 1978. Since then, France are unbeaten in their last seven World Cup fixtures against CONMEBOL opposition (W3 D4), with three of the last four games ending goalless.
- Peru are winless in their last seven World Cup matches (D2 L5).
- Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals scored in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists.