Group C has potential for some exciting play. France should breeze through the group, but there’s a chance for some excitement at that 2 spot. And even though France should breeze through, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will.
The French team is one of the most formidable in the whole tournament. And, for the most part, they’re pretty young. Let by captain (and Tottenham captain) Hugo Lloris, France has the ability to play deep into, and potentially win, this tournament. Their Group C opponents shouldn’t cause them too much concern. They’ll be without CB Laurent Koscielny, who had a brutal injury when he ruptured his Achilles in the Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid. Their defense will miss him, but they have enough fire power to forge ahead.
With the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann leading the charge, they don’t have much to worry about. Their midfield is solid. Ngolo Kante is one of the best defense midfielders in the world. His link play with Pogba to get the ball forward will create numerous opportunities for the Frenchman. Olivier Giroud is likely to play the role of super sub, so get ready for some late-game sparks from him.
They win the group by a couple points. Semifinals are calling, at bare minimum. SportsLine has them at 6-1.
The Socceroos (yes, that’s their nickname) come into Group C hoping to play spoiler. They’re a funny one, though. What do I mean? They have the ability to go toe to toe with Peru and Denmark, but they are more likely to get trampled by both. Which Aussies are going to show up? Who knows…
Aaron Mooy recently finished a dogfight at the end of the season, seeing his club, Huddersfield Town, stay in the Premier League for a second straight season. He described it as “like being on drugs”. The Socceroos will be hoping he can ride that high into the world cup.
Up top for the Aussies will be a familiar face in 38-year old Tim Cahill. Cahill is an Australian legend who still is able to bring his A (ok, maybe B) game. The real question is do they have the ability to weather the storm, or will they need to rely heavily on their aging star? It almost doesn’t matter according to the odds, which put them at 500-1.
The Peruvians are a solid squad. They’ve finished third in two of the past three Copa America tournaments. This is their fifth World Cup, and the first time they’ve qualified since 1982. Since the French are most likely to win the group, Peru’s biggest competition is going to be Denmark. What are their keys to victory?
Feed Paolo Guerrero. The Peruvian captain is fresh off a brace against Saudi Arabia in a lead-up friendly. He is, however, not leading the squad without controversy. Back in October, Guerrero tested positive for cocaine and was given a lengthy ban that would have seen him miss the World Cup. Guerrero claimed he was set up, and that his tea was contaminated. Interestingly enough, all three captains of his Group C rivals (Hugo Lloris of France, Simon Kjaer of Denmark and Mile Jedinak of Australia) urged FIFA to overturn the ban. It has since been overturned and FIFA will allow him to play.
This is a big deal for Peru. Without Guererro, they’d lose their all-time leading scorer, and that’s not something you want going against keepers like Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel. I think they ride that high and compete well, but ultimately finish third. Overall odds? 200-1.
The Danes are led by none other than Tottenham superstar Christian Eriksen. Eriksen was a FORCE in World Cup qualifying, scoring 11 goals in 12 games. He’s become the talisman for his national team, but he also has the ability to create for others. His versatility is going to be the key to Denmark escaping Group C.
Someone he’ll try to get the ball to is young winger Pione Sisto. Sisto is quick and great with the ball. He’s shown a lot of promise, as has Yussuf Poulsen. The two 23-year olds will be hoping to replace the production of forward Nicklas Bendtner, who is missing out due to a groin injury.
Their defense will be asked a lot of questions, and they’ll need to rely heavily on the experience of Simon Kjaer and Kasper Schmeichel. If Kjaer can deputize a young talent like Andreas Christensen, they can build more confidence in the back. By doing so, they can keep the ball out of their defensive third regularly enough, and push their way through to the knockout stage. I think they finish a close second to France. Odds to win it all are at 100-1.
Come on, Christian. You’ve got this.
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MLS needs to crack down on soccer specific stadiums