It’s better to be lucky than good, they say. That’s a mantra that has come to describe Didier Deschamps’ time as France manager. His reputation as a world class player hasn’t quite carried over into management but he’s certainly had his fair share of luck. After being given a plum draw for the 2014 World Cup, history has repeated itself four years on with France being drawn alongside Denmark, Australia and Peru.

There are few managers heading to the World Cup who wouldn’t swap their talent pool for France’s but the sheer quality available to France has really ratchetted up the pressure on Deschamps. Can he get things right and oversee another run through the competition as in Euro 2016 or will his critics be proven right as France fall short of their potential?

Individual Quality to Ensure Safe Passage for the French

When you look through the probable France squad heading to Russia it’s tough to pick out too many areas of weakness. The form of Hugo Lloris is a concern as is the current situation with Paul Pogba at Manchester United but Deschamps has quality options all over the pitch.

The problem the France manager is working out how to get the best out of his players. Although many believe this crop of French players deserve a truly world class manager to lead them, Deschamps’ deficiencies shouldn’t hamper their chances of winning Group C. Our odds comparison shows that Coral’s price of 1/3 is as big as you’ll get on France finishing above Denmark, Peru and Australia. That should be one of the safer tournament bets.

Denmark Hoping to Keep Their Chances Alive Until the End

Denmark are, by most people’s reckoning, the second strongest team in Group C. Åge Hareide will be just as happy with the draw as Deschamps, especially as Denmark had to come through a playoff to book their spot in Russia.

The bulk of Denmark’s qualifying campaign did little to raise the hopes of their fans but they were absolutely awesome in their 5-1 destruction of Ireland over two legs of the playoff. Christian Eriksen proved at the Aviva Stadium that he is fast maturing into a genuine world class talent while hopes are high about the future of Pione Sisto. The Ugandan born winger will terrify the defences he comes up against in Russia but there’s only so far Denmark can go if the service of Sisto and Eriksen goes unused by their profligate strikers.

The scheduling of the matches could not have worked out better for Denmark. They face France in their last group stage encounter and will hope to have done enough against Peru and Denmark before then. That is the most anticipated game of the group but Denmark’s match against Australia could actually be the most pivotal.

Australia Intent on Spoiling the Party

Having successfully led Australia through an incredibly draining qualification campaign, Ange Postecoglou left his role as the Socceroos manager. That left his replacement, Bert van Marwijk (who himself left his job with Saudi Arabia after guiding them to the World Cup) needing to quickly learn about his players and formulate a plan.

Van Marwijk has simplified things considerably from the previous regime. He has Australia playing with a flat back four, two holding midfielders and four players released to do the damager further up the pitch. Things didn’t go to plan in the Dutchman’s first match in charge as Australia were humbled by Norway but they were much more organised and difficult to break down next time out against Colombia.

Expect that Colombia performance to be the basis of the Socceroos’ game plan in Russia. They’ll sit deep and defend for much of the game and could actually see some success. They have enough about them to get a result against Peru and Denmark and will make France work very hard. Providing the Socceroos can keep Eriksen and Sisto quiet when they meet Denmark in Samara, they may just steal a win and provide something of a betting shock by qualifying for the knockout stage at best betting odds of 9/2 with Bet365.

Peru’s Pragmatism to Fall Short

Like Australia, Peru will favour a defensive approach at the World Cup. It’s what they did throughout a qualifying campaign in which they had to get through a playoff tie against New Zealand and when making the semi finals of the 2015 Copa America.

As well as defensive solidity, Peru’s strengths lie in counterattacking. They are capable of excellent sweeping moves that quickly turn defence into attack so all of their opponents in Russia must be careful to limit space in behind their defence. Keep things in check defensively though and we predict that Peru may struggle to do enough from an attacking perspective.


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