Group C Ian Gregory-Graff World Cup 2018

World Cup Group C Preview

The teams in Group C are France, Denmark, Peru, and Australia.
Below the team breakdowns are listed in order of a predicted outcome.

France

FIFA Ranking– 7
Recent World Cup participation 1998-2014
Squad: All European Based
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

Warm-up Friendly Results:
vs Ireland- Win 2-0
vs Italy- Win 3-1
vs USA- Draw 1-1

Storylines:
France is a perennial favorite, and after their performance at the Euro it should be expected. They have a young extremely talented squad with some of the most sought over players in the world. Specifically Griezmann, in the run-up to the tournament, there has been much speculation over his future, which could be a major distraction as it isn’t yet resolved. Then there is Pogba, a highly touted player who fetched a big transfer fee, and hasn’t quite lived up to the billing at club or international level since. Many will be scrutinizing his every move and the added pressure may be a further distraction to him. On to Mbappe, you may have noticed in the last 24 hours that he suffered a knock in training and had to leave the session, not to mention a knock picked up in the USA friendly. Despite allaying fears that he would have a spell on the sidelines, it still begs the question if he is 100%. In addition to the players in the squad, the omission of high profile names (Koscielny, Martial, Laporte, Bakayoko, Coman, & Lacazette) have brought added scrutiny to the squad in the lead-up. The added speculation over newly free French legend Zidane being connected with the national team job after the World Cup ends, heaps even more pressure on Deschamps. All that being said, they are still one of the teams to watch, for better or for worse.

Prediction:
France will shine, in the midst of all the swirling controversy, the squad seems to have some basic trust and unity. Deschamps specifically picked his squad for those reasons and should have them pushing deep into the tournament. They will win the group easily.

Denmark

FIFA Ranking– 12
Recent World Cup participation 2010
Squad: All European Based players
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield), Frederik Ronow (Brondby).

Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Jens Stryger (Udinese), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich).

Midfielders: William Kvist (FC Copenhagen), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna).

Forwards: Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Viktor Fischer (FC Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax).

Warm-up Friendly Results:
vs Sweden Draw 0-0
vs Mexico Win 2-0

Storylines:
Needing a big performance to qualify for the tournament, their star player Erikson performed. The major concern for Denmark will be if Erikson can continue to be the lynchpin at the heart of the squad, without him, they have some talent but lack that something special. In addition the exclusion of Nicklas Bendtner due to injury, the team lacks their active national top scorer. The shock leading into the tournament was the friendly win over Mexico, a dominant performance that opened a few eyes they came away with the win.

Prediction:
Denmark’s tactical play and ability to produce the occasional spectacular will propel them to the next round after slugging it out with Peru and Australia.

Peru

FIFA Ranking– 11
Recent World Cup participation 1982
Squad: 5+ European based players
Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Jose Carvallo (UTC), Carlos Caceda (Municipal).

Defenders: Luis Advincula (Lobos), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Aldo Corzo (Universitario), Nilson Loyola (Melgar), Christian Ramos (Veracruz), Alberto Rodriguez (Junior Barranquilla), Anderson Santamaria (Puebla), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo).

Midfielders: Pedro Aquino (Lobos), Wilmer Cartagena (Veracruz), Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo), Edison Flores (Aalborg), Paolo Hurtado (Vitoria Guimaraes), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City).

Strikers: Andre Carrillo (Watford), Raul Ruidiaz (Morelia), Jefferson Farfan (Lokomotiv Moscow), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo).

Warm-up Friendly Results:
vs Scotland Win 2-0
vs Saudi Arabia Win 3-0
vs Sweden Draw 0-0

Storylines:
Peru is potentially one of the darlings of the World Cup, qualifying from the CONMEBOL region is no easy task (just ask 2 time Copa America Champions Chile who are missing out). The stories surrounding the 2 most prominent players have been polar opposites. Farfan was once one of those players you would watch and hope to see him in the World Cup however improbable, well now he has been reconciled to the squad and provided the boost to help the team to glory. On the other hand, we have Guerrero, the all-time top scorer, and captain who narrowly makes the squad after multiple months in limbo as part of a suspension for a positive doping test. Guerrero tested positive for a minor amount of cocaine believed to be related to a tea, receiving a year-long ban, which was at the last second reduced to a 6-month ban allowing Guerrero to scramble for fitness and to play in the World Cup. On top of all that, the team has no experience on this stage has not qualified since 1982, so Peru is a totally unknown quantity on this stage and it should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Prediction:
Peru will put in a valiant effort, and may still shock a few people and teams enough to grab a few points, but ultimately they go home early placing 3rd in the group.

Australia

FIFA Ranking– 36
Recent World Cup participation 2006-2014
Squad: 17 European Based and 7 Asian/Aussie Based players
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Matt Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk).

Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).

Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall).

Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian).

Warm-up Friendly Results:
vs Czech Republic Win 4-0
vs Hungary Win 2-1

Storylines:
After switching federations in 2007 from the Oceania Confederation to the Asian Confederation, Australia has been attempting to progress as a footballing nation. Participating in 3 AFC championships they have won 1 and appeared in another final, showing some of the progress they had hoped to make. They were able to achieve an automatic qualifying spot from the AFC in this round of qualifying, after which their successful coach Postecoglou resigned. Current manager Bert van Marwijk is a placeholder and lead the squad through a handful of friendlies and a reasonably successful stint at the 2017 Confederations cup and his successor for after the World Cup has already been named. The 38-year-old Australian hero Tim Cahill is on the squad, but his impact is likely to be minimal and used in hail mary scenarios. Leaving the team with nothing left to lose and to simply prove themselves in the tournament.

Prediction:
Australia like Peru is an unknown quantity, but the lack of true talent and the level of competition will be too much. This will leave them in 4th on the plane home early.

Group C Wrap-up:

Final Standings:
France
Denmark
Peru
Australia

Bold Prediction:
There is a possibility that France goes out in a blaze in the midst of all the craziness surrounding the team, they have done it before, see 2002 & 2010.

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