WORLD CUP PREVIEW – GROUP C
France – The qualification campaign for France was mixed. Put in a potentially tough group with Sweden and Netherlands, Deschamps’s men came out on top with 23 points from their 10 games. However, draws with Luxembourg and Belarus were low lights and the French didn’t score many only netting 18 times compared to Sweden and Netherlands who both scored over 20.
Australia – A Mile Jedinak hat trick against Honduras in the Asia/CONCACAF play off sealed qualification for Australia after they came 3rd in their group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan. Tomi Juric top scored for Australia with 5 goals in the group stage of qualifying.
Peru – A 5th place finish for Peru, edging out Chile on goal difference, led to a South America/Oceana play off in which Peru defeated New Zealand 2-0 in the home leg to secure their place in Russia after a 0-0 draw away. A 2-1 victory over Uruguay the highlight of qualifying for Peru.
Denmark – Cristian Eriksen inspired the Danes to a fantastic 5-1 win over Republic of Ireland in the European play offs with an impressive hat trick. Age Hareide’s men finished 2nd in their qualifying group 5 points behind Poland with Eriksen contributing 11 goals.
France – Antoine Griezmann
With Paul Pogba’s form being erratic to say the least, Griezmann’s role in the French attack will be vital to their chances. France will be hoping Griezmann can link up with Giroud and Mbappe to provide a more potent attack than was shown in qualifying.
Australia – Mathew Ryan
Goalkeeper Ryan may be well known to Premier League fans as Brighton’s number one stopper. With Australia coming up against attacking talents like Griezmann and Eriksen, Ryan may be needed for a big performance or 2.
Peru – Edison Flores
Plying his trade in the Danish league with Aalborg, Flores may be well known to fellow Group C participants Denmark. Scoring an impressive 5 goals in qualifying from midfield, Flores will be hoping to replicate this form and guide Peru to the knockout stages.
Denmark – Christian Eriksen
Without doubt the standout talent in the Denmark team, Spurs ace Eriksen will be pivotal to Denmark making it out of a difficult group. If he can reproduce his performance against Republic of Ireland in the play offs, Denmark will have a real chance of making an impact.
While I’m not as convinced by France as many are, they should have too much quality for the others in this group. Can’t see them beating any of the big teams in the tournament though.
There should be a good battle for 2nd place in this group with the 3 other teams pretty evenly matched. I’m backing Eriksen to come good for Denmark.
The Aussies strength could be in coach Bert Van Marwijk who has strong international experience, having led Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup.
Not entirely convincing against the big teams in the South American qualifying stage, I think Peru will fall short in this group.
France, Denmark, Australia, Peru – 11/2
Eriksen group top scorer – 8/1
Australia 3rd place – 2/1
– Robert Shiers