France one of the favourites to win

Sportstar - - GROUP C - SHYAM VASUDEVAN

France is the ab­so­lute favourite to top Group C, while there could be a strong fight be­tween Peru, Den­mark and Aus­tralia for the sec­ond spot. The Aus­tralians are ex­pe­ri­enced cus­tomers and are mak­ing their fourth con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance at the World Cup. Peru, mean­while, will be hun­gry for suc­cess as it re­turns to the tour­na­ment af­ter a long gap of 36 years. The dark horse of the group might well be Den­mark. A dog­fight for the sec­ond spot will be fas­ci­nat­ing to watch.

FRANCE

Les Bleus, stud­ded with some of the big­gest names in world foot­ball, are un­doubt­edly one of the most ex­cit­ing and promis­ing teams to watch out for. France, man­aged by Di­dier Deschamps, the man who fa­mously mar­shalled France to World Cup glory in 1998, heads to Rus­sia as one of the prime favourites to clinch the ti­tle. The side suf­fered suc­ces­sive heart­break first when it was ousted from the

2014 World Cup in the quar­ters by Ger­many and then when it lost to Por­tu­gal in the 2016 EURO fi­nal. Both losses were its first and only loss in the tour­na­ments. This time, with an ex­plo­sive front­line that in­cludes

Paul Pogba, An­toine Griez­mann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ous­mane Dem­bele, the de­fence an­chored by Raphael Varane and Sa­muel Umtiti, and Hugo Lloris man­ning the posts, France will cer­tainly be look­ing to made amends.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Hugo Lloris, Steve

Man­danda, Alphonse Are­ola.

De­fend­ers: Djib­ril Sidibe, Benjamin Pavard, Adil Rami, Raphael Varane, Sa­muel Umtiti, Pres­nel Kim­pembe, Benjamin Mendy, Lu­cas Her­nan­dez.

Mid­field­ers: Paul Pogba, Blaise Ma­tu­idi, Corentin Tolisso, N’golo Kante, Steven Nzonzi.

For­wards: Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, An­toine Griez­mann, Ous­mane Dem­bele, Flo­rian Thauvin, Thomas Le­mar, Na­bil Fekir.

World Cup record

14 ap­pear­ances

Cham­pion in 1998

AUS­TRALIA

One of the most con­sis­tent teams in the com­pe­ti­tion, the Soc­ceroos will be mak­ing their fourth con­sec­u­tive World Cup ap­pear­ance. The Aus­tralians come to Rus­sia on the back of one of their most chal­leng­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paigns. Af­ter miss­ing out on a chance to seal au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion, Aus­tralia had to play 22 games over two­and­a­half years and travel close to 250,000km to seal a berth. While the cam­paign would have taken a toll on the play­ers, it most cer­tainly has made them bat­tleready. The side boasts quite a few ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in Aaron Mooy, Matthew Ryan and Mile Je­d­i­nak, while the 19­yearold mer­cu­rial mid­fielder Daniel Arzani will be ea­ger to im­press in his de­but cam­paign.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic,

Brad Jones.

De­fend­ers: Trent Sains­bury, Mi­los De­genek, Matt Jur­man, Mark Mil­li­gan, Josh Risdon, Aziz Behich, James Mered­ith.

Mid­field­ers: Mile Je­d­i­nak, Aaron Mooy, Mas­simo Luongo, Jackson Irvine, Tomi Rogic, Dim­itri Pe­tratos, Mathew Leckie, Daniel Arzani.

For­wards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, An­drew Nab­bout, Jamie Ma­claren, Rob­bie Kruse.

World Cup record

5 ap­pear­ances

Round of 16 in 2006

PERU

Peru, ranked 11th in the world, is re­turn­ing to the World Cup af­ter 36 years. Its qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign got off to a dis­

as­trous start, with four losses in its first six games. How­ever, that seemed to only spur the play­ers, as the Paolo Guer­rero­led side then went on a 13­match un­beaten streak to de­feat New Zealand in the in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­offs to win a ticket to Rus­sia. But La Blan­quir­roja had rea­son to worry as Guer­rero, the na­tion’s top­scorer and the side’s

most ex­pe­ri­enced player, was found guilty of dop­ing and was ini­tially banned for 14 months. Then, just a fort­night be­fore the World Cup, Switzer­land’s supreme court froze Guer­rero’s ban, mak­ing him el­i­gi­ble to com­pete in Rus­sia.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Pe­dro Gallese, Carlos Caceda, Jose Car­vallo.

De­fend­ers: Aldo Corzo, Luis Ad­vin­cula, Chris­tian Ramos, Miguel Araujo, Al­berto Ro­driguez, Anderson San­ta­maria,

Miguel Trauco, Nil­son Loyola.

Mid­field­ers: Re­nato Tapia, Pe­dro Aquino, Yoshi­mar Yo­tun, Paolo Hur­tado, Chris­tian Cueva, Edi­son Flores, Andy Polo, Wilder Carta­gena.

For­wards: An­dre Car­rillo, Raul Ruidiaz, Jef­fer­son Far­fan, Paolo Guer­rero.

World Cup record

5 ap­pear­ances

Round of 16 in 2006

DEN­MARK

Think of Den­mark and the first name that pops into your head is Chris­tian Erik­sen, and for good rea­son, too. Erik­sen, who ex­cels in the role of a play­maker at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, is a pro­lific scorer for the na­tional team, find­ing the back of the net eight times in 10 matches to guide Den­mark to its fifth ap­pear­ance in the World Cup. While Erik­sen will han­dle at­tack­ing du­ties, Chelsea de­fender An­dreas Chris­tensen will spear­head the de­fence. How­ever, the Danes will be de­prived of the services of Nick­las Bendt­ner, who was ruled out of the com­pe­ti­tion owing to a groin in­jury.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Kasper Sch­me­ichel, Fred­erik Ron­now, Jonas Lossl.

De­fend­ers: Si­mon Kjaer, Mathias Jor­gensen, An­dreas Chris­tensen, Hen­rik Dals­gaard, Jan­nik Vester­gaard, Jens Stryger Larsen, Jonas Knud­sen.

Mid­field­ers: Chris­tian Erik­sen, Lasse Schone, Michael Krohn­dehli, Thomas De­laney, Wil­liam Kvist, Lukas Ler­ager.

For­wards: An­dreas Cor­nelius, Kasper Dol­berg, Martin Braith­waite, Ni­co­lai Jor­gensen, Pione Sisto, Vik­tor Fis­cher, Yus­suf Poulsen.

World Cup record

Five ap­pear­ances

Quar­ter­fi­nals in 1998

AFP

Les Bleus: France is un­doubt­edly one of the most ex­cit­ing and promis­ing teams to watch out for.

GETTY IM­AGES

Hun­gry for suc­cess: Ranked 11th in the world, Peru is re­turn­ing to the World Cup af­ter 36 years.

GETTY IM­AGES

Dark horse: Den­mark is mak­ing its fifth ap­pear­ance in the World Cup and will hope to make it a mem­o­rable one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.