World Cup 2018 Preview – Group C

France's Paul Pogba (2nd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Portugal during their friendly soccer match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris October 11, 2014.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)   - RTR49T
France’s Pogba celebrating a goal with the rest of the team” (CC by 4.0) by Ajith Kumar

Over the coming two weeks, we’re publishing a series of World Cup previews with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today, Group C with Australia, Denmark, France and Peru. Group C starts on June 16th, France are playing Australia, and Peru are facing off against Denmark. The bookmakers favourites to qualify from Group C are France and Denmark. Checking out the top online bookies odds before you select your best team is a good thing to do to ensure you don’t overlook one of the favourites.

Australia

Despite football not being the country’s number one sport, Australia still manages to qualify regularly for international tournaments like the World Cup. On paper, they’re considered the underdog in Group C, but on the pitch the Socceroos can never be underestimated, thanks to their intensity and often physical approach of important games.

As was the case during previous World Cups, most Australian eyes will be on living legend and captain Tim Cahill. The midfielder will be 38 years old going into this summer’s World Cup, but he’s still considered invaluable to this Australia squad. With his experience, both overall and specifically at World Cups (the fourth of his career!), he’s expected to play an important role, both on and off the field.

Another attack-minded midfielder in the Australian team is Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy. The creative attacking midfielder with the tireless work ethic has had a great season in the Premier League and he will be counted on to provide the National team with some much-needed footballing creativity in Russia. In goal there is a Premier League player with a very successful last season as well, in the person of Mat Ryan. The Brighton goalkeeper had an overall excellent season as he managed to help the Seagulls stay in the PL in their first season there. He’s got great reflexes, is good with his feet, and gained a lot of authority in the area over the past 12 months.

Like we said before, Australia is on paper the weakest team in this group. If they want to have any chance of progressing to the knock-out stage, they’ll have to rise above themselves and hope for some favourable results elsewhere.

Denmark

The Danish are bringing a team to the World Cup this summer that shouldn’t be underestimated by any account. On a good day, Denmark can combine defensive solidity with a crafty midfield and a dangerous offense. The team’s undoubted star is Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, who’s confirmed (once again) last season that he belongs to the very best attacking midfielders in the world. He runs, he creates and he scores, with both his left and right foot, and his value to both club and country is enormous.

In defence, the Danes will be hoping that this season’s break-through of Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen will be assuring them of a world-class central defender for years to come. Despite still being prone to an error here and there, the young defender is solid in the air, quick, and not afraid to aid in the build-up. Speaking of talents, at the other end of the pitch, Denmark can play Ajax Amsterdam’s Kasper Dolberg, who is considered one of the world’s most talented youngsters at the moment. His break-through came last year, when he played an important role, at only 18 years old, in helping the club reach the Europa League finals. He’s strong, agile and technically-gifted, and he has a real killer instinct in front of goal. Last season was partly ruined by injury, but if he can display even a whiff of his class in Russia, he’ll be one to watch.

Denmark will be aiming at qualification in this group. France should normally have too much class for Denmark but Peru and especially Australia are teams that they should beat, in theory.

France

The French national team is one of the favourites for the World Cup in Russia, that much is clear. When you can leave the likes of Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Aymeric Laporte (Man City), and Nabil Fekir (Lyon) without weakening the selection, it means you’ve got an exceptionally talented group at your disposal.

Antoine Griezmann
is already one of the most talked about players in Europe after another spectacular season at Atletico Madrid and the alleged serious interest from FC Barcelona, but his star might just rise a bit higher still this summer. The small attacker is one of the most lethal offensive players in the world at the moment and he seems to link up well with any player partnering him up front. The 2018 World Cup might just become Antoine Griezmann’s tournament.

Of course, it might just as well become Kylian Mbappé‘s tournament, as the French teenager continued his meteoric rise to football super stardom last season by scoring 21 and assisting 16 in 46 games for PSG. He’s lightning quick, physically strong, and a dribbler pur sang, and what’s even better, his still only 19 years of age. The World Cup is the next step in the career of one of the world’s biggest talents.

It’s easy to pick another 10 players from the French squad to put an emphasis on and we’ve chosen goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The French national goalie has been a mainstay in goal for years now, both for Spurs and France, and his importance is sometimes somewhat understated. Lloris has grown into one of the most reliable goalies in the world, becoming one of that valuable breed of goalkeepers who win points for their teams. For France, he’ll have a crucial role in guiding the many young talents to World Cup glory in Russia.

The French have as good a selection as any country and are definitely considered favourites for the end victory. Their group shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for them.

Peru

The Peruvian build-up to the World Cup has been stressful. They reached the tournament by winning a double play-off against New Zealand, and their supposed star striker and best player was still suspended for international football due to a failed drug test.

Eventually though, 34-year Paolo Guerrero was granted permission to go to Russia after all, where he will be taking on his usual role leading the Peruvian attack. In the autumn of his career he’s still scoring goals at high level, namely at Brazil’s Flamengo. With stints at clubs like Hamburg, Bayern Munich and Corinthians under his belt, his goal instinct as well as his experience will be of great value to a Peru team that’s considered an underdog in this group.

FPL managers might hear a bell ring when they hear the name André Carrillo. The Watford winger, on loan from Portugese top club Benfica last season, showed glimpses of his qualities over the past season. Despite not being able to cement a starting spot in the team, he did display great technical ability, dazzling speed and a tireless work rate. Peru will hope that it’ll all come together for him in Russia.

Another interesting piece of the Peruvian puzzle is Renato Tapia, the defensive midfielder who usually plays as a central defender for Dutch giants Feyenoord. As a defender who possesses the skills to join in midfield and is not afraid to do so, he played an important role in the club’s championship in 16/17. For Peru, he usually gets the role of playing in front of the back line. Strong in the duels, with good vision, and not afraid to make a forward pass, Tapia is important to the overall balance of the Peruvian national team

As with Australia, the World Cup’s group phase will likely also be the last phase for Peru. The stars are all at the end of their career and the team overall just doesn’t seem up to the task of finishing above Denmark.