Les Bleus to shake off Benzema blow in WC opener

France have been hit by several injuries to huge names ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but none as untimely and grievous as Karim Benzema having to withdraw the very day before the curtain raising match. He joins the likes of Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté, Presnel Kimpembe, and Christopher Nkunku on the sidelines, but even without the latest Ballon d'Or recipient, Didier Deschamps' charges should have more than enough to break down a very ordinary looking Australia outfit at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah on Tuesday. Read our preview here:

Victor Hugo

With Group D also containing dark horses Denmark (who beat Les Bleus comfortably and very recently) and Tunisia (with all the history between the two nations), a good, calming start to proceedings is crucial. The holders could opt for the evergreen Olivier Giroud to partner Kylian Mbappé in attack, or even turn to Randal Kolo Muani, who only has two caps for the senior setup on the back of a productive season thus far for Eintracht Frankfurt. Antoine Griezmann makes up the triumvirate, though the creator in chief hasn't had any stellar turns for the national side for a little while. Further back, there are question marks over Hugo Lloris retaining the number one spot in goal, and collective form has been very poor by their lofty standards, with only one win in six games since the end of March.

Irvine times

Once again, the Socceroos had to come through the intercontinental play-offs to squeak into the World Cup. This time, they knocked out a dominant Peru by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out. Head coach Graham Arnold is much derided by supporters despite navigating them through, though they will point to their unassailable looking position in the final Asian qualification pool completely collapsing. The roster lacks the obvious cutting edge of previous sides in gold and yellow to grace the tournament, with no reliable goalscorer in the ranks at all. Jamie Maclaren hasn't translated his Melbourne City form to the tougher challenges the world has to offer. In midfield, Jackson Irvine is a tenacious tackler alongside Aaron Mooy, and it remains to be seen whether Arnold will unleash 18 year old Garang Kuol. The striker, with just one cap to his name, is bound for Newcastle United in January, and playing in the competition would greatly help his chances of gaining an immediate work permit and showing the older guard what he can do.

Betting tip

In 2018, these sides met in the group stage, with France running out 2-1 winners on their way to winning the tournament. In 2022, there is a wider gulf in class despite the players unavailable to Deschamps. Parimatch have odds of 7.00 for a 3-0 victory.

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