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France vs Australia
World Cup Finals
|Kazan Arena, Russia|
France have beaten Australia by two goals to one in Kazan to open their World Cup campaign.
It was a gripping match where the French took the ascendancy early before the Australians settled into the contest and played strongly through much of the first half.
The early minutes saw Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann threaten the Socceroos goal and the centre-back combination of Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury repel attack after attack in resilient fashion.
Shots on goal dried up and deep attacking chances were scarce as the half become bogged down and the Australians would have entered the sheds at half-time feeling chuffed with a 0-0 scoreline.
The trend continued after the break until a wonderful ball from Paul Pogba in the 57th minute found space and Josh Risdon fouled in the area. The referee was originally happy to let play go on but the dreaded VAR intervened and the penalty was awarded.
Griezmann slotted home the spot kick and the French looked on their way to victory. Within minutes, the scores were level after an obvious handball saw Mile Jedinak convert another spot kick and the hopes of the land down under were re-energised.
Sadly for the Socceroos, Pogba struck with around fifteen minutes remaining, after an unconvincing shot caught Mat Ryan off his line and rebounded off the bar into the goal-mouth to seal the victory for the French.
It was a gallant effort from the Socceroos, yet one which they will feel could have resulted in a point.
The Socceroos meet France in the opening Group C match of the 2018 World Cup in Kazan. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 8pm (AEST).
This is the moment the Socceroos have been working towards for the last four years and the French loom as their first opponent in Australia’s fourth consecutive World Cup.
It will be a huge ask for the Socceroos to take all three points from this game and a draw might be a far more realistic aim yet big nations can sometimes be stunned early in the tournament.
France will field a star-studded line-up with Giroud, Griezmann and Mbappe certain to be in the mix and the attack on Mathew Ryan’s goal will be considerable in both frequency and effectiveness.
A stoic and compact defensive structure will be key for the Australians as they seek to repel the impending attacks of the French and the firm and disciplined hand of new manager Bert van Marwijk will play a key role in instilling confidence in the back four.
If the Socceroos can hold firm at the back it will allow them to attempt to hit the French on the counter-attack and somehow pinch a goal at the other end.
Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo and Tom Rogic will be key to this plan and one single opportunity requiring a finishing foot could be the difference between a glorious point and and a gallant loss.
Mathew Ryan will need to be ready for the onslaught yet the French will also need to be switched on and resist the temptation to underestimate a gutsy Australian squad that will be desperate to make the most of their opportunities.
France are blessed with quality yet there are enough reasons to suggest that the Socceroos are ready to play well. In the spirit of optimism, I truly believe the Socceroos can find the net in this match and take a point from the contest.
France 1, Australia 1
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