France look to avoid trademark slip-ups in Group C

2018-05-29 21:39
Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba (Getty Images)

Paris - France head into the World Cup with one of their strongest ever squads as they look to banish the memories of the painful extra-time defeat on home soil by Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.

Expectations are high that a French side that could afford to leave out the likes of Dimitri Payet, Kingsley Coman, Karim Benzema and Anthony Martial could win a second world title.

A kind draw in Group C has only increased the pressure on Didier Deschamps' outfit further as they head to Russia, with their first game against Australia on June 16 before facing Peru and Denmark.

But previous much-vaunted France teams have fallen foul of similarly comfortable-looking groups over the years.

Embarrassing losses to Senegal and Denmark saw Les Bleus dumped out as holders in 2002, while Raymond Domenech's team self-imploded in South Africa eight years ago with defeats by the hosts and Mexico.

The current side showed plenty of fallibility in qualifying too, losing to Sweden and drawing with minnows Luxembourg before eventually topping their group.

They should still have little trouble in brushing aside their modest Group C opposition, though, especially with star forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe playing without the burden of previous failures in their first World Cup.

Christian Eriksen's Denmark could prove to be the best of the rest as Peru look set to be without talismanic captain Paolo Guerrero after the Court of Arbitration for Sport extended the striker's ban for doping.

Australia have defied the odds before in the World Cup, but have an ageing team that were only dragged to Russia by veteran midfielder Tim Cahill in a playoff against Syria.

As long as no demons from the past return again, France should leave the others scrapping for second place, although they will be keen to avoid a last-16 clash with Lionel Messi's Argentina from Group D.

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