France vs Australia predictions: Les Bleus to prevail in World Cup opener
- France arrive at the World Cup in shaky form and with several key men unavailable
- Australia made it to Qatar by the skin of their teeth after disappointing in qualifying
- Recommended bet: Split stakes between 2-0 and 3-0 correct scores
France and Australia met for their opening game of the 2018 World Cup, and history repeats itself this week.
On that occasion, France edged a tight game 2-1 thanks to a late own goal, and Les Bleus went on to become world champions, while Australia left with their heads held high after a spirited opening performance was followed by a 1-1 draw with Denmark.
Things could pan out very differently this time, however. France have been hit with a spate of injuries ahead of their first game, but Australia have regressed significantly.
This latest incarnation of the Socceroos does not come close to matching the golden generation of 2006, and they are not even on par with the class of 2018.
Mile Jedinak ran the midfield in Russia but has retired along with Tim Cahill, who remained an influential dressing-room presence in 2018. Starman Aaron Mooy shone four years ago but is now a waning force, and 2022 could be all about damage limitation.
France have suffered a number of injuries to star players, with striker Karim Benzema the latest to withdraw from the squad.
The Ballon d’Or winner joins midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, defender Presnel Kimpembe and forward Christopher Nkunku in missing the tournament.
Raphael Varane has returned to full training but may not be risked following a lengthy spell out, while Eduardo Camavinga will need to prove his fitness after overcoming an adductor issue.
Australia do not have a full bill of health, either, with Hibernian winger Martin Boyle withdrawing from the squad last week after failing to recover from a knee injury.
Stoke defender Harry Souttar has recently returned to action following an ACL injury, but his minutes may have to be carefully managed, and star midfielder Ajdin Hrustic will not start against France due to an ankle injury, according to manager Graham Arnold.
France do not arrive in the best of form, finishing third in Nations League Group A1 this September after twice losing to Denmark and taking just one point from two meetings with Croatia.
Didier Deschamps’ men also crashed out of Euro 2020 in the last 16 on penalties to Switzerland and were unspectacular in World Cup qualifying, taking 16 points from a possible 18 against Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan but drawing 1-1 in both meetings with second-placed Ukraine.
However, while France have failed to set the world alight, Australia’s form is outright concerning.
Arnold’s men finished third in AFC qualifying Group B with 15 points from ten games, which left them eight points behind Saudi Arabia and seven behind Japan.
The Socceroos were poor against those two Group B rivals, with a 0-0 home draw against the Saudis their only point collected in four meetings with the top two.
Their form outside of Australia was even more of a concern as their only win in five Group B away trips was a 1-0 victory in Vietnam, and they drew against minnows Oman and China.
In the Qatar-based playoffs, Australia did beat UAE 2-1 and edged past Peru on penalties after a 0-0 draw, but neither performance was compelling.
While France’s absentees are more eye-catching, the Australian absentees could arguably have an even greater impact on the respective teams.
Pogba, Kante and Benzema are massive names, but Deschamps has elite replacements throughout his squad, with the likes of Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Ousmane Dembele likely to step up.
Arnold does not have that luxury, and all of Australia’s first-team absentees will be keenly felt.
Boyle, Hrustic and Souttar were three of Australia’s top seven goal contributors in qualifying, and Arnold needs all his best players to be available and in top condition, if they are to compete with the world champions.
Even then, Australia do not have any quality even vaguely comparable to the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. Both would make sensible additions to any BetBuilder combinations, and Deschamps’ elite strikeforce can combine to score .
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
LiveScore Bet’s World Cup 2022 Squads is free and simple to play. Log in to view the Squads page, where you’ll get the chance to reveal up to five players. Your squad will earn you cash for each goal scored in the listed games. Reveal each player at the stated time throughout the round to complete your line-up. T&Cs apply – .