The current champions seem confident they can overcome the well-trained and pragmatic Australian team.

Who: France vs Australia, Group D

Where: Al Janoub Stadium

When: Tuesday, November 22 at 10:00 PM AST, 7:00 PM GMT

FIFA Ranking: France (4), Australia (38)

Defending champions France are clear favorites to beat Australia on Tuesday, despite losing several key players to injuries.

Saturday striker and winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema had to withdraw from the tournament after tearing a muscle in training. Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, both regulars of the team that won the 2018 World Cup, were unable to travel to Qatar. Christopher Nkunku had to stumble out of practice on Tuesday after being tackled by his own teammate.

Al Janoub Stadium
France and Australia take on each other at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Despite these injuries, the French team provides a wealth of wealth, with Kylian MbappĂ© and Antoine Griezmann expected to take charge of Les Bleus in Benzema’s absence. With Pogba and Kante missing, manager Didier Deschamps will likely look to Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot to take their place in midfield.

The two teams met at the last World Cup, with France narrowly beating Australia 2-1 in the group stage thanks to an own goal and a penalty. France hopes for a convincing victory this time. But Australia will take inspiration from their 2018 performance against eventual tournament winners.

This is the fifth consecutive World Cup appearance for the Australian Socceroos. However, they have yet to make it to the group stage since reaching the round of 16 in 2006 with their “golden generation”, which included players such as Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.

“Australia come to this tournament with an eclectic group of players: a handful have previous World Cup experience, but the majority are in the finals for the first time ever, with nine most recently representing the under-23 squad at the Tokyo Olympics,” says Samantha Lewis. , an Australian football writer.

world cup
Football fans gather for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

But what Australia’s team lacks in experience they make up for in youth – and possibly the appetite to challenge France.

Lewis describes the Australian squad as “filled with young, hungry players who have been given their first big shot on the world stage, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking”.

Australia manager Graham Arnold has been known for his pragmatic style of play in recent years. Against France, he will likely rely on regular players such as Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy and veteran goalkeeper and skipper Mathew Ryan to provide organization and discipline as they take on some of the best footballers in the world.

Australia also has talented Cadiz winger Awer Mabil in their ranks, as well as teenage Garang Kuol, who has just signed for Newcastle United in the Premier League. Ajdin Hrustic, who won the 2022 Europa League and now plies his trade in Serie A, appears to have shrugged off an injury and will be able to provide a creative spark in midfield.

Australia v Peru - Ajdin Hrustic
Australia’s Ajdin Hrustic celebrates after scoring a penalty during a shootout in a World Cup qualifier against Peru [REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous]

Lewis says there is little expectation in Australia that their team will overcome Les Bleus. However, she admits to having some cautious optimism. “France is no longer the force it was four years ago, thanks to a series of untimely injuries and drama in the camp,” she said. “So there are some loyal fans (myself included) who think they can score a goal or two if France takes as long to warm up for the tournament as it has in the past.”

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