World Cup Group C Preview: France A Heavy Favorite To Advance

World Cup Group C Preview: France A Heavy Favorite To Advance

Soccer

World Cup Group C Preview: France A Heavy Favorite To Advance

We continue our 2018 World Cup group previews with Group C today. This collection of teams boasts a lot of talent, but certainly one favorite above all others. France is one of the favorites to hoist the cup in Russia, so it’s no surprise Les Bleus are widely expected to skate through Group C. But Peru and Denmark may have something to say about that, while you can never count out the plucky Australians.

Previous 2018 World Cup Group Breakdowns:

Group A, Group B

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, FRANCE

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann enters the World Cup as France’s go-to option on offense, and with good reason. The 27-year-old has scored in 79 of his 142 La Liga appearances for Atlético Madrid since joining the squad in 2014. He can play on either wing or as an attacking midfielder,but expect France to deploy him as a striker.

Though he’s one of the best finishers in the world, Griezmann is versatile and can set up goals as well as score them. Quick, technical and strong for his size, he’s dangerous every time he steps on the pitch.

N’GOLO KANTE, FRANCE

Paul Pogbaand Kylian Mbappé are also French candidates for this spot, but N'Golo Kanté might be Les Bleus’ most important player. Despite being just 5’6″ Kante is an absolute powerhouse in the midfield.

Kanté was a key part of Premier League championship runs for Leicester City in 2016 and Chelsea in 2017. He was named Premier League Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season and the French Player of the Year in 2017.

He is a stellar tackler and reads plays and the pitch as well as anyone in the world. Kanté is also an excellent passer and is capable of starting attacks from deep in his own end. Everything this loaded French teams does will start with he and Pogba in the midfield.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN, DENMARK

Christian Eriksen is the best player Denmark will put on the pitch in Russia and has been for some time. An attacking midfielder, the 26-year-old is finally reaching his full potential with Tottenham Hotspur. He was named to the Premier League Team of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign, and has been named Danish Football Player of the Year in four of the last five years.

Eriksen has scored 15 goals in his last 20 national team appearances (including 11 in World Cup qualifying) and he’ll have to keep that pace up for Denmark to have a successful run in Russia.

THE PARTICIPANTS

FRANCE

World Cup Finals Appearances: 14
Best Finishes: Champions in 1998, Runners-up in 2006
FIFA World Rank: 7

The French are one of the pre-tournament favorites as we head to Russia and it’s not surprising. Boasting a deep and super-talented lineup, Les Bleus should be an offensive powerhouse. Between Pogba, Griezmann, Mbappé, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembélé, goals shouldn’t be a problem.

The issues will be at the back for France, but that doesn’t mean the team is short on talent. Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti will likely anchor the back line, and if Hugo Lloris can stay solid in net this squad could be left standing at the end.

The French are the heavy favorites in this group and it’s not hard to see why. The best XI this team can put on the field will stack up against anyone.

PERU

Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images

Previous World Cup Finals Appearances: 4
Best Finish: Quarterfinals in 1970
FIFA World Rank: 11

It has been a long road back to the World Cup for Peru, which has faced a 36-year drought. Finally Los Incas are back and ready to make a run. Unfortunately, they will face a tough task escaping this group.

Striker Jefferson Farfán is almost certain to be the team’s rock offensively. Team captain and all-time leading scorer Paolo Guerrero was banned after a positive drug test, but just won an appeal in a Swiss Court and is now likely to play.

Renato Tapia is a heck of a young midfielder, while Andre Carrillo and Christian Cueva can put pressure on opposing back lines. With the 33-year-old Farfán leading, this could be a dangerous squad.

One thing to keep in mind is that Peru hasn’t lost in 12 matches. Los Incas are 8-0-4 since a loss to Brazil in November of 2016. This team knows how to win. Despite tough tests in Group C, Peru should battle for second place.

DENMARK

Previous World Cup Finals Appearances: 4
Best Finish: Quarterfinals in 1998
FIFA World Rank: 12

As mentioned above, Eriksen is one of the best players in the world and as a 26-year-old at his first World Cup, expect some fireworks. Denmark has missed out on two of the last three World Cups, so qualifying for Russia was a big deal. Eriksen and company will be hungry for some success.

Eriksen, forward Niklas Bendtner, and defender and captain Simon Kjaer will be the leadership backbone of the squad, while Kasper Schmeichel should be steady in net. Pione Sisto is an exciting midfielder with a ton of skill, while young Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen could emerge as a star for the Danes. Keep an eye on 23-year-old forward Yussuf Poulsen, he is a big (6’4″) target who could come in handy if the team needs a goal.

Denmark is already pegged as a potential sleeper pick to advance deep in the tournament. This team will rise or fall with Eriksen. If he is as brilliant as many expect, the Danes could go on a run.

AUSTRALIA

Matt King/Getty Images

Previous World Cup Finals Appearances: 4
Best Finishes:
 Round of 16 in 2006
FIFA World Rank: 40

The Socceroos are back in the World Cup after a dismal performance in 2014, where they went 0-3 with a minus-6 goal differential. But they’re ready to fight this time without Tim Cahill as the team’s main attraction. The 38-year-old Cahill will be on hand, but he’s not the centerpiece of the squad anymore.

Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak is the team captain and leader for the Aussies. The 33-year-old has 18 goals in 75 career caps for the national team. Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan will have his hands full, but he’s shown the ability to make incredible saves throughout his career.

If the Aussies can force a draw against Denmark in their second match, they could enter the final game of the group stage with something to play for. That must be the strategy: make games ugly and play for second place.

MATCH SCHEDULE

June 16: France vs. Australia (Kazan), 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT

June 16: Peru vs. Denmark (Saransk), 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT

June 21: France vs. Peru (Yekaterinburg), 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT

June 21: Denmark vs. Australia (Samara), 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT

June 26: Australia vs. Peru (Sochi), 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT

June 26: Denmark vs. France (Moscow), 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT

THE ODDS

ALL ODDS TO WIN GROUP VIA ODDSCHECKER (PERCENTAGE CHANCE TO ADVANCE IN PARENTHESES)

FRANCE 4/9 (91%)

DENMARK 9/2 (60%) 

PERU 12/1 (29%)

AUSTRALIA 22/1 (20%)

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