Brave Socceroos fall to France in thrilling World Cup opener

Daniel Jeffrey Editor

By Daniel Jeffrey, Daniel Jeffrey is a Roar Editor

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    Australia have started their 2018 World Cup with a 2-1 defeat against France, but Bert van Marwijk’s men proved they have what it takes to mix it with the best footballing nations on the sport’s biggest stage.

    Despite looking like they’d done enough to secure a draw against one of the Russia 2018 favourites after Antoine Griezmann and Mile Jedinak traded second-half penalties, a looping, deflected strike from Paul Pogba which only just passed the goal-line was enough to consign Australia to a 2-1 loss.

    The defeat is a bitter pill to swallow for Socceroos fans after an excellent, spirited performance from the side. Van Marwijk had his team well-structured in defence, constantly thwarting their high-profile opponents.

    » Re-live all the action with our Socceroos vs France live blog

    Aaron Mooy and Trent Sainsbury were immense in defeat, living up to their reputations as two of Australia’s best players, while N’Golo Kante was France’s top performer, defusing the bulk of the Socceroos’ drives into French territory.

    The match started with a period of French dominance many Socceroos fans had feared was inevitable. Kylian Mbappe in particular was terribly threatening, and before too long Les Blues had registered four shots on target.

    By that time, Australia had hardly touched the ball, let alone threatened Hugo Lloris’ goal, instead turning the ball over with a profligacy they could ill-afford. Such was the nature of the game then that some viewers might have been wishing the match was only being broadcast by Optus and not SBS, so that they were subjected to only an intermittent, stop-start stream of French attacks rather than the constant deluge actually happening on the pitch.

    But some sharp work from Mat Ryan in goal kept the scoreboard unaltered.

    While the Australian custodian was solid, the best save of the first half belonged to Lloris, the French skipper diving superbly to his left to turn a deflection from one of his teammates around the post following an Aaron Mooy free-kick.

    The Socceroos made no more comparable attacks on the French goal in the half, but the same could not be said of their opponents, only a Mark Milligan clearance and some superb Trent Sainsbury defending keeping the match scoreless.

    Despite France dominating the chances and field position, Australia had genuine reason for frustration at half-time, such was the frequency with which men in blue shirts threw themselves to the ground under minimal duress – none more so than Lucas Hernandez – only to be rewarded by referee Andres Cunha. Socceroos fans were no doubt reminded of the similarly infuriating adjudicating in 2006 against Brazil.

    Mile Jedinak reacts with frustration after giving away a foul

    (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    But the refereeing would come under the microscope far more in the second half, the VAR intervening after Antoine Griezmann was brought down by Josh Risdon with only Ryan to beat. Cunha had originally waved play on, but the use of technology saw a penalty awarded a minute later.

    It is cruel yet fitting that Australia, whose fans have been so frustrated with the implementation of the VAR in the A-League, became the first side in Russia to be on the wrong end of a video intervention, but the fact is there could be no complaints about this decision. The contact was clear, and Risdon can be thankful that Griezmann’s heavy touched saved the right-back from receiving the tournament’s first red card.

    France’s star man made no mistake from the spot, and when his side made another foray into the Australian area soon after, one got the impression the floodgates were on the verge of opening.

    But the Socceroos got the ball up the other end of the field and earned a spot kick of their own, Samuel Umtiti inexplicably extending an arm above his head to handle a Mooy free-kick. If the first-half refereeing was reminiscent of Australia’s 2006 World Cup fixture against Brazil, this infringement recalled memories of the following fixture against Croatia.

    Just like Craig Moore in Stuttgart, Mile Jedinak stepped up and finished with aplomb to bring the scoreboard back level, but unlike the events of 12 years ago, it wasn’t enough to earn a result.

    Despite the eventual scoreline, the Socceroos had moments where they were the better of the two sides, particularly in the second half, although that was due in no small part to France losing their way.

    Didier Deschamps is sure to face a mountain of pressure to get his side performing at a far higher standard after guiding his side to a one-goal win in a match from which many were expecting a rout.

    As for the Socceroos, the single-goal margin could be a major boost in their quest to qualify for the round of 16, particularly if Les Blues are stung into putting in two far more commanding performances against Peru and Denamrk.

    But France’s performances in the rest of the group stage will not be at the forefront of Bert van Marwijk’s mind; the next match against Denmark and following encounter against Peru are now the focus, and based on the evidence of tonight, Australia look to have what it takes to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.

    Daniel Jeffrey
    Daniel Jeffrey

    Daniel is Editor of The Roar. You can catch him on Twitter @_d_jeffrey.

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    The Crowd Says (85)

    • June 16th 2018 @ 10:00pm
      Kurt said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

      Très déçu. Je suis déplaire.

    • June 16th 2018 @ 10:01pm
      Kangas said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

      We had the initiative at about the 75 th minute , I thought we could win from there . I think BVM got it right except for bringing Irvine on instead of Arzani

      How do people think jedinak went ??

      • June 16th 2018 @ 10:15pm
        Ad-O said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

        I thought he got caught in possession a few too many times, but stepped up well for the pen. I’d give him a pass mark.

      • June 16th 2018 @ 10:18pm
        Fadida said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

        Jedinak looks pretty sluggish, caught in possession a lot. I’d have brought in Luongo for him after we went behind.

        I can you why Arzani wasn’t introduced earlier. Kruse was working hard defensively and Arzani is a bit of a risk when you are hanging on.

        I thought Juric should have started, to hold the ball up, with Nabbout on when the game was stretched and open.

      • June 16th 2018 @ 10:19pm
        Renegades Man said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

        Heartbreak for Socceroos. That being said France were the better team and looked dangerous whenever in atttack. I don’t think we would of scored if we didn’t get penalty. Didn’t like there milking free kicks.
        I think the best result now is for Denmark to draw with Peru, and for France to beat both those teams, if the Socceroos are to have a chance in making final 16.

        • June 16th 2018 @ 10:26pm
          AGO74 said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

          Take out the first 10 minutes and I don’t think they were that dangerous and/or better. Once we settled we were reasonably comfortable.

    • June 16th 2018 @ 10:05pm
      O'Reilly said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

      Arzani should have been on at the 75 minute mark.Mile was slow and being dispossessed led to France keeping clear ball

      • June 16th 2018 @ 10:11pm
        Kangas said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

        Agree with arzani point

        The yellow card foul on juric was another turning point

        We seriously should be beating Denmark now .

        Move on and win the next 2 games

    • Roar Rookie

      June 16th 2018 @ 10:07pm
      Mattician6x6 said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:07pm | ! Report

      Well done boys, a great defensive effort against a formidable outfit, looked good and for some good luck we might’ve won

    • June 16th 2018 @ 10:10pm
      Ad-O said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

      Unlucky on the 2 goals. Defense a big improvement than under Ange. We have a chance in this group.

      • June 16th 2018 @ 11:37pm
        pete4 said | June 16th 2018 @ 11:37pm | ! Report

        Both French goals had an element of luck to them. Disappointed we didn’t take a point from that game

    • June 16th 2018 @ 10:11pm
      Kurt said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

      Daniel, I have to say I think you’re being harsh re. the pen. Think it was an extremely faint touch at most, possibly a touch of the ball onto the French player. The BBC commentators replayed it about a dozen times and concluded it wasn’t a penalty.

      • Editor

        June 16th 2018 @ 10:26pm
        Daniel Jeffrey said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

        To each their own Kurt, I thought Risdon clearly clipped Griezmann on the back of his left ankle.

        • June 16th 2018 @ 10:39pm
          MQ said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

          There was clearly a clip, I think some of the controversy comes from whether Risdon touched the ball first when he slid in (I’m not really sure one way or the other).

          More generally, who would have thought we’d see the VAR used twice in the space of a few minutes (and we even had to rely on goal line technology to boot for the final goal).

        • June 16th 2018 @ 10:45pm
          AGO74 said | June 16th 2018 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

          He did – however

          A) you can see Risdon got the slightest of touches;
          B) the ball was rolling away comfortably into Ryan’s arms. Griezman was never getting it; and
          C) yes he did get him but with the combination of above and him being clipped soooo late this where a refs instincts correctly told him that on balance the fall was insufficient to blow for a penalty.

          Most critically for a team which fell to the ground at the drop of a feather all night not one Frenchman blew up when play continued

          • June 17th 2018 @ 1:06am
            Eden said | June 17th 2018 @ 1:06am | ! Report

            That was my take as well. He got enough ball to break down the play, therefore the contact is irrelevant.

            VAR is soon going to be the biggest blight on football. It will slow the game down and cause as much controversy as it solves.

            • June 17th 2018 @ 7:01am
              Simoc said | June 17th 2018 @ 7:01am | ! Report

              The contact caused Griezmann to fall, otherwise he would have scored. The contact was only noticeable on the replay. A clear penalty.
              If it was the other way around and blue shirt bringing a gold shirt down, it would have been way clearer to everyone.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 17th 2018 @ 10:44am
            steveng said | June 17th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

            AGO74, that’s football, the world cup is not the Premier League and its a shame that the world cup is always intimidated by these prima donna acts, its been that way for many decades and the VAR won’t change that! i though that the French players knew that Australia is a very physical side and they milked every opportunity to get the result that they have. The French penalty was in no way a penalty, the ref didn’t give it ‘straight away’ and only gave it through VAR a few minutes later. If Risdon didnt touch him the ball would have gone into Ryan’s arms easily. The Aussies did a good job and this game should have been a draw as the French didnt look that convincing and/or the billion dollar side (billion dollars which is absolutely ridiculous) an amount of money for a sporting team!

        • Editor

          June 17th 2018 @ 12:47am
          Daniel Jeffrey said | June 17th 2018 @ 12:47am | ! Report

          Well, I still stand by the penalty decision, but can’t say I’m thrilled with the VAR consistency given Argentina’s very good penalty shout against Iceland didn’t warrant any video intervention.

          • June 17th 2018 @ 1:10am
            me too said | June 17th 2018 @ 1:10am | ! Report

            yep, was very strange. more clear penalty than ours, with as just an over dramatic dive to ensure it was seen.

          • June 17th 2018 @ 10:31am
            shirtpants said | June 17th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Also need to remember that if the first penalty wasnt awarded that we wouldn’t have received ours either as the play would have been in Ryans hands as opposed to the halfway mark. Every little decision changes the game from there on.

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