Which France will we see at this World Cup? The underachieving side that has embarrassingly crashed out of two of the last four World Cups without a win in the Group Stage, or the burgeoning giant that finished runners-up at the 2016 European Championship. There’s no doubt that this is one of the most talented teams at the World Cup, but whether or not they live up to the hype is another story. There are some dangerous teams in Group C that could give France a run for its money.
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It took time for France to get going at the 2016 Euros, but when they did they showed the world what they are capable of. They ended up finishing atop their group, beat Ireland in the Round of 16, flexed their muscle against Iceland, and upset Germany before falling to Portugal in the final.
There is plenty of talent on the offensive end for the French. Antoine Griezmann was the star of the 2016 Euros and Paul Pogba usually shines when playing for his national team. They will also have the supremely talented Kylian Mbappe available, who is the best teenager in the world.
Hugo Lloris is a solid goalkeeper, but there are questions along the back four. There is plenty of talent, but not much experience outside of Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna. Young players like Benjamin Mendy, Raphael Varane, and Samuel Umtiti need to come through.
The Danes are making just their fifth World Cup appearance ever, and they are looking to make the knockout stages for the first time since 2002. Denmark finished second in its qualification group and took down Ireland in the playoff to make it here.
Defense has been the key to Denmark’s success over the last few years, and that will be what the Danes rely on in Russia. During qualifying, they allowed just nine goals over 12 matches, stifling opposing offenses.
When this team needs a goal, it will turn to Christian Eriksen. Eriksen has been the team’s top performer for some time now and found the back of the net 11 times during qualifying.
For the first time since 1982, Peru is back in the World Cup. Los Incas finished in the final qualifying spot in South America and defeated New Zealand in the confederation playoff to make it to this point.
Up top, Peru will have two of the oldest starting forwards in the tournament in Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan. Both players are in their mid-30s, but they still have a nose for the goal.
The key will be how younger players like Christian Cueva, Renato Tapia, and Edison Flores perform. In particular, Cueva has great field vision and will look to spring his forwards with precise passes.
It’s no longer a nationwide celebration when Australia gets to the World Cup. The Socceroos have made their fourth straight World Cup, and will be a perennial presence now that they are qualifying in Asia and not Oceania.
Australia is trying to shake off a poor performance at the 2014 World Cup. In Brazil, the Aussies failed to get a single point from any of their matches, something they don’t want to repeat. However, there are some concerns about where this team’s offense is going to come from.
This team still relies on Tim Cahill far too often. Cahill is 38 and can still summon bits of magic, but he is not the player he once was. Aaron Mooy has had a standout year for Huddersfield, and his play will go a long way to determining how the Aussies do.
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Most people are going to with France and Denmark to emerge for this group. While I think you have to go with the French to win the group, my other choice to advance is Peru. This team looked very impressive in a tough region, and Peru has more playmakers than Denmark.
2018 FIFA World Cup Teams to Advance: France and Peru
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