World Cup 2018: Group C Preview
MOSCOW, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - The 2018 FIFA World Cup has a couple of uncertain groups and group C is definitely one of them. Group C has France, Australia, Denmark and Peru.
Group C is the group that has the most obvious winner but could produce a much wanted surprise. The group consists of France, Australia, Denmark and Peru. France will be the strong favourites to progress as winners despite having a strange habit of self-destructing at World Cups.
Manager Didier Deschamps steered Les Bleus through a near-perfect qualification campaign, finishing atop UEFA’s Group A with 23 of a possible 30 points. Since then, their winning form has persisted. The French have won four of six friendlies in the run-up to this summer’s tournament and tied defending champions Germany 2-2 in Cologne last November. France is an obvious winner in this group and is likely to go very far in the tournament.
Of the four teams in Group C, Australia may have the hardest time advancing. The Socceroos eeked into the World Cup finals, finishing third in their qualifying group behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. Two playoff rounds followed, and after edging past Syria and Honduras with a combined goal differential of three in four games, Bert van Marwijk’s charges secured their berth to the tournament.
Veteran Tim Cahill was named to his fourth World Cup squad but age could finally be catching up to the country’s legendary striker. Although he potted 10 goals for the Socceroos during their qualifying campaign, the 38-year-old forward only appeared in 10 matches for Millwall in The Championship, failing to find twine.
Denmark has Peru to beat to clinch second spot in this group. Denmark has not lost a game since October 11, 2016. In the 606 days since, the Danes have gone unbeaten 14 games unbeaten, demolishing Poland 4-0 on one occasion and ravaging the Republic of Ireland 5-1 in a playoff. Question is, can they carry that same momentum into the World Cup?
The Danes are solid at the heart of their defense. Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel will tend goal, protected by a central pairing of Chelsea's Andreas Christensen and Kjær. It is here that Denmark will have to be particularly cautious especially when they face the likes of Peru.
Peru could provide a surprise and make it to the round of 16 at their first World Cup since 1982. They've been boosted by captain Paolo Guerrero having his doping ban put off until after the tournament finishes and have a close-knit, robust team capable of squeezing out results.
After a nervy start to CONMEBOL qualifying, Peru clinched points in seven of their last eight fixtures, earning a playoff berth at Chile’s expense. Following a 2-0 victory over New Zealand in Lima, the Peruvians celebrated their first World Cup appearance since 1982. Festivities, however, were cut short. After missing the playoff, captain Paolo Guerrero was ruled out of the World Cup, his previous doping suspension extended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A see-saw affair ensued and, after an appeal backed by the captain of each Group C side, the talismanic striker was reinstated to the team.
Players to watch
Kylian Mbappe (France) : At only 19 years of age, the Parisian has already announced himself as a star in the making. Previously linked to Spanish giants Real Madrid, Mbappé dominated Ligue 1, registering 13 goals and eight assists in 24 games played. He’s also made his mark on the international stage. Despite being the youngest player on France’s 23-man roster, Mbappé has already earned 15 caps with the senior side, scoring four goals.
Mat Ryan (Australia): Heading into the 2017-18 season, Brighton & Hove Albion were entering uncharted territory. The club had never made the Premier League before and had been absent from the top flight for the last 34 years. Despite splashing in the transfer market and their signing of Aussie netminder Mat Ryan many had them tabbed for relegation. However, after 38 matchdays, Brighton found themselves above the drop, thanks in large part to Ryan’s showings between the sticks. Ryan has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best keepers. Over the course of the season, Ryan registered 10 clean sheets and batted away the third-most saves in the competition (123).
Jefferson Farfan (Peru): Over a 17-year senior career, Farfán has carved out an impressive European rasuma. Between 316 games in the Netherlands, Germany and Russia, the 33-year-old wideman has booted home 107 goals. His specialty, though, is his playmaking. The winger has generated 44 assists since the 2009-10 season and couples his passing prowess with speed, one-on-one ability and set-piece mastery.
Christian Eriksen (Denmark): Eriksen is the team’s primary creative force. Nowhere was that more evident than in Denmark’s qualifying run, when he powered his team to Russia with 11 goals, joint-third in all of UEFA. That dominance is an extension of Eriksen’s domestic form. The Dane finished among the Premier League’s top-ten in assists, completed passes, shots, through balls and crosses. With delightful touch and a scoring streak to match, Eriksen is among the most complete offensive players at the World Cup.