FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
France is expected to go far in this tournament, and rightfully so, as they do have the experience and quality in their team. To be fair they have been a strong competitor for the title for a while now and with their young talents, I can see them as such for years to come. Looking at their road to World Cup, France finished at the top of their group with an overall record of 7-2-1, only losing to Sweden (2:1). That defeat put France in a tough position, as France needed to win the last game against Belarus to be sure they directly advanced to the World Cup. And they did so with a final score of 2:1. As mentioned before, France does have one of the strongest teams in this tournament, at least on the paper. Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembélé are only a few of their players. So there is no doubt they do have a strong offensive line. Same can be said for their defence as well as midfield. Looking at their group, I have no doubt they will finish at the no.1 spot as no other team is even nearly as good as them.
Star players: Antoine Griezmann/Kylian Mbappe
Prediction: Top 4 is certainly within their reach
Australia had to do a lot of work to get to this World Cup, as they needed to play a total of 22 games to finally get here. That is also a record for the most games to qualify of any nation in history. Looking at their qualifying games for Australia, they first were put in a group with Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Bangladesh, where they came on top with a record of 7-0-1, only losing to Jordan (2:0). That saw them qualify for the 3rd stage, where they met with Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Thailand. With some bad luck, they finished 3rd, behind Saudi Arabia only due to goal difference. 3rd spot meant they had to go into the 4th stage of qualifiers, where they met with Syria. The first match in Syria ended with a final score of 1:1, whereas Australia won their home match (2:1) after extra time. All in all, they had to defeat 11 opponents and travel a total of 250.000 km/155.000 miles. Sadly I do not see them capable of emerging from Group C. Their lack of quality players and departure of Ange Postecoglou doesn’t help either. Although they can be happy with the chance to appear in this year’s tournament after a long and hard road they had to go through to be here.
Star player: Aaron Mooy
Prediction: Bottom of the group C
Peru finished their qualifier group at a 5th place which is a decent result, taking into consideration which teams they had to play against. Luckily for them, they were ahead of Chile who had the same amount of points (26) but slightly worse goal difference. A 5th place meant they had to go into 2nd leg of qualifiers where they met with New Zealand. 1st match in New Zealand ended with a draw (0:0), despite the fact Peru played better, they failed to score. The second game in Peru was once again one-sided with Peru showing more quality and will to win. 28 minutes into the match we saw Farfan scoring the 1st goal for his country which brought them much closer to World Cup appearance. In the second half, Ramos had his chance to score and he did so, making it 2:0 and sealing the deal for Peru. Peru can be happy to reappear in the World Cup after 36 years, with some good performances I can see them advancing into top 16, only if they manage to defeat Demark.
Star player: Edison Flores
Prediction: Advancing to the last 16 is a possible outcome anything more not likely.
Denmark got their spot in the World Cup thanks to the superb performance from Christian Eriksen, who scored 11 goals during qualifying. Looking at how Denmark advanced to World Cup, they finished 2nd in group E, 5 points behind Poland. An overall record of 6-2-2 is not bad, to say the least, with 20 goals scored and only 8 conceded it’s clear Denmark does have some quality in them. Due to finishing 2nd in the group, Denmark had to go into playoffs where they faced off against Ireland for the spot at the World Cup. First game in Denmark ended with a draw (0:0), so Denmark had a tough job, as they needed to win in Ireland to get their promotion. The match did not start well for them either, as they conceiving an early goal in 6′. That’s when Denmark started playing on a whole another level, turning the game around in the course of 3 minutes with 2 goals in quick succession in 29’ and 32’. They then went on and dominated Ireland, finishing the game with 1:5 win and securing their spot in the World Cup. To be fair, Denmark are underdogs in this tournament, but I do believe they are capable of shocking us with some brilliant performances.
Star player: Cristian Eriksen
Prediction: Getting out of the group C should not be too big of a problem anything beyond, they will need some luck on their side.