We continue to work through our FIFA World Cup group previews today as we take a look at the highly anticipated, especially for Australian fans, Group C! You can check out our previous group previews or stay in the loop for our upcoming previews by checking out the BYB Soccer Page here!
Group C is an extremely interesting one that features one of the tournament favourites in France, along with Denmark, Peru and Australia. We preview the group and give our best bets below.
France will enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup as the third favourite to win the tournament at odds of around $7. A strong showing at the Euro Championships in 2016 ended with a disappointing second place finish after losing the final to a red-hot Portugal side.
Since the Euros in 2016, France have played 10 non-friendly matches, all World Cup qualifiers. They arguably showed the best form of any European side in the qualifiers, dropping only one game to Sweden and winning seven of the remaining nine matches.
They some top end talent to call upon in the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann. It might be an extremely unpopular pick but I actually think they are a little undermanned in their 23 man final squad which was announced last week. While they should breeze through the group stage, I would be steering clear of France. They were dominant in the qualifiers but the best team they defeated was England after all.
Players to watch: If France are to make anything of this tournament, it has to be the international coming out party for Paul Pogba. On his day he is a top five player in the world but he’s yet to produce in a big way for his country.
Peru are making their first World Cup appearance since 1982 after winning the inter confederations playoff against New Zealand. They beat out some quality teams in the South American qualifications including Chile and Paraguay to qualify for the 2018 World Cup so they definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly here.
Peru play a very grinding style of football, one that contrasts many of their South American neighbours. They generally win or draw games by simply outworking their opponents, which could play right into their hands when they come up against world class sides that rely so heavily on a skilful style.
They were able to secure two draws with Argentina in the qualifiers as well as a draw with Columbia and a defining win over Uruguay. They can definitely match it with the best and it will be interesting to see them go up against Australia who play a similar style to themselves.
Players to watch: Peru will be without their captain and star player Paolo Guerrero after a ban for cocaine use but Lokomotiv forward Farfan has been in dominant form this season and should carry the side offensively.
Denmark finished second in their qualifying group to advance to the second round of qualifying in the UEFA Confederation. The finish set up a home and away play in fixture against the Republic of Ireland to qualify for the World Cup. After drawing the first leg 0-0 away from home, they trounced Ireland in the home leg to the tune of 5-1 to qualify for their first Cup since 2010.
While they have only made it to a total of four World Cups in the past, they have had great results for such a small nation in each. They have only bowed out in the group stage in one of those four tournaments, and made it all the way to the quarter finals in 1998.
Their fortunes will rely on a few key players in Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Nicklas Bendtner and although they were impressive in the qualifiers, their group was arguably the weakest of all of the UEFA groups, containing Poland, Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan. I think their depth is a real issue here, and I think either Australia or Peru have the game style to worry them and cause an upset in the groups.
Players to watch: There is no doubting that Christian Eriksen is a world class midfielder, but too much is asked of him on this Danish team.
While it might not be Australia’s most fortunate group they have pulled in the World Cup, they are definitely not without a shot in 2018. They come into the tournament on the back of an extremely thrilling finish to their qualifying campaign, which saw them survive two must win fixtures against Syria and Honduras get to Russia.
It will be new Aussie Coach Bert van Marwijk’s first major tournament at the helm, and in terms of squad selection he seems to have kept it pretty simple so far. Australia’s defensive structures were impressive in their qualifying campaign, as they went through the first stage of the tournament undefeated, however, their struggles to find any sort of attacking flair became prevalent in the second stage.
So much will rely on the form of aging veteran Tim Cahill at this World Cup, who will be aiming to become just the fourth ever player to score at four different World Cup tournaments alongside greats of the game in Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose. Australia will need to win at least one game and hope they can pinch another draw at the very least if they aim to qualify.
Players to watch: Tim Cahill is obviously the difference maker but will likely only play as a late game sub. I think Tom Rogic is the only Socceroo capable of really making something happen creatively on the offensive end. Aaron Mooy could elevate himself here as well.
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