World Cup 2018: France vs Australia; Everything you need to know about Match 5
The first match of Group C and the first of four matches scheduled for the day will see one of the favorites, France taken on Australia at the Kazan Arena. This should be fairly straight-forward for Les Blues on paper, and a lot of goals can be expected as well.
With speculation on Griezmann's future finally reaching a conclusion - he will indeed stay in Atletico Madrid - the French fans can finally move on and focus on the more important thing here.
Here's everything you need to know about Match 5 of the 2018 World Cup, scheduled to kick off at 15:30 hours IST:
FIFA ranking: 7
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Captain: Hugo Lloris
Despite having one of the best squads in the tournament, France aren't seen in the same line as teams like Brazil and Germany. It comes down to their consistency as a squad, which many feel is not up to the mark.
Didier Deschamps is also yet to figure out the best France XI and their formation - alternating between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3. The latter is the more attacking option, and will be expected to feature against Australia. Consistency has been the biggest issue for France in the past, as draws against Belarus and Luxembourg in the qualifiers indicated.
Hugo Lloris, the custodian at Spurs and the captain of this French team, will start in goal. Despite being prone to mistakes, he is extremely solid most of the time and France never need to consider an alternative.
Playing in front of him are Varane and Umtiti, two defensive mainstays of the squad for some time now. Varane's positioning in the box is impeccable, while Umtiti is a monster in the air - the two contrasting styles will keep France safe.
The full-backs, Mendy and Sidibe, have just returned from injuries so whether Deschamps will risk them in the first game is a question. The alternatives aren't too bad either. Atletico Madrid's Lucas Hernandez and Stuttgart's Pavard are more than capable defenders and do not be surprised if they turn out to be key players this campaign.
The three-man midfield of Pogba, Kante and Tolisso is as creative as it is solid, the solidity coming from Kante while the creativity comes from Pogba, with Tolisso thrown in the midst as well.
Blaise Matuidi might get a look in as well, at the expense of Tolisso - or, under the most incredible of circumstances, Paul Pogba. A host of below-par performances have not done the United midfielder any favors and France won't shed a tear if he gets left on the bench.
The attack is where Deschamps is spoiled for choice. Mbappe at centre, Griezmann and Dembele on the flanks seems the right way to go, but Lemar, Fekir and Giroud are good enough to start every game too.
This is really what France's problem is. They're a very young squad with not a lot of experience and a lot of quality, and choosing someone means ignoring someone just as good. While it is a good thing in general, it can also backfire.
FIFA ranking: 40
Coach: Bert van Marwjik
Captain: Mile Jedinak
After a circuitous route to Russia that involved a playoff win against Honduras, Australia will like to simply go back without getting too muddy. Their opponents are inarguably better than them, and the Socceroos have a snowball's chance in hell of getting out.
But that does not mean they'll bend over backwards and get run over. In Marwjik, they have Saudi Arabia's former manager who got them into the WC, and will like to give 3 clean, entertaining games before he goes back to his peaceful life.
Brighton's Ryan is the keeper, and he has shown in the PL that he is capable of a few unbelievable saves when he is in the mood, and he usually is. Jurman and Sainsbury are the team's best centre-backs and are not that easy to play against. France can opt out of the crossing strategy for this game, as it won't be that effective.
Behich is the left back, while the right-back position will be a toss-up between Degenek and Risdon. Degenek is the more versatile of the two, while Risdon will be the more attacking option.
Captain Jedinak and Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy form the DMs, with Mooy being Australia's best. As a deep-lying playmaker, he makes the whole attack tick (what little of it he can bring out of them).
Celtic's Rugic is the No.10, and he is looked upon as the future of Australian football. He is quick, creative and will be the player going forward at every turn. Flanking him are Kruse and Leckie/Milligan - fast, but ultimately never looking like they belong at the elite level.
Juric should be the striker for Australia, but they do not score a lot of goals. After their success in the Asian Cup, Juric has become their go-to man, but we might get to see a few minutes of Tim Cahill too. The 38-year-old veteran is Australia's most famous player, and why not get him in on the fun?
Prediction: Considering Australia's defense and France's attack, I cannot see how this will be anything but a high-scoring affair. 3-0 France, with potential for more.