France boss Didier Deschamps expects Australia to be a ‘difficult opponent’ in their World Cup opener on Wednesday morning.
The defending champions arrive in Qatar after a less than ideal preparation and lost talismanic striker Karim Benzema for the tournament on Sunday to a thigh injury.
The Journal Ballon d’Or winner will join a long list of absentees, which includes Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku.
Didier Deschamps is wary of the challenge Australia will pose on Wednesday
Deschamps, however, insisted there was no anxiety in the French camp as he prepares to take charge of his third World Cup as coach.
However, he conceded Les Bleus face a tough challenge against Australia.
‘We know that the first game in a competition is always very important,’ he said in his press conference on Monday.
‘There’s no anxiety or anything.Everyone is calm, everyone’s got a cool head.
France have lost their talismanic striker Karim Benzema for the entire tournament
But Deschamps insisted France’s preparations had gone smoothly despite the injuries
‘We know that Australia will be a difficult opponent, they’ll give us a run for our money, but we will put everything we can into place for the win.’
Having triumphed in Russia four years ago, France arrive in Qatar hoping to become the first team to win football’s biggest prize in back-to-back World Cups since Brazil lifted it in 1958 and 1962.
The omens, however, aren’t good.Injuries aside, no European side has ever made it out of the group stages after winning the tournament four years earlier.
France are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back World Cups since 1962
Deschamps, however, struck a buoyant tone.
‘We’ve done everything possible,’ he said.
‘The boys are feeling good about this first game, the best that they can.’
A number of Les Bleus players sparked controversy this week, after claiming they had little more than a passing knowledge of the Socceroos.
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" website
France beat Australia 2-1 in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia
Oliver Giroud admitted his side hadn’t done any homework on the Aussies – despite being pushed hard in a 2-1 win over Australia in the group stages at the 2018 World Cup.
Defender Ibrahima Konate and midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, meanwhile, admitted they couldn’t identify anyone in the team they are about to play – even though both had come up against members at club level.
France captain Hugo Lloris, however, suggested his team would ignore the Aussies at their peril.
Hugo Lloris has warned France will have to be careful against the Socceroos on Wednesday
‘With set pieces, we need to be very careful,’ he said.
‘I know that in transition up front, they’re very quick as well, they can penetrate very quickly.’
Meanwhile, Graham Arnold believes the Socceroos should have no inferiority complex heading into the World Cup and has urged them to channel their ‘Aussie DNA’ to reach the knockout stages for the first time in 16 years.
Graham Arnold has urged Australia to focus on themselves ignore France’s reputation
‘If we focus too much on the opposition it’ll just put it in the brains of the players of how good the opposition is,’ he said on Monday.
‘We know their strengths, the players know their strengths.It’s about those ten blue shirts against ten yellow.
‘We’ve got the Aussie DNA, go out and kick and scratch and do whatever is required to do that. One of their strengths is technical so we’ve got to be in their faces.
Australia last won a World Cup game 12 years ago and racked up just one point over their past two tournaments combined, finishing bottom of their group in both occasions.
The Socceroos boss said preparations at the Aspire Academy in Doha have been perfect
Reaching the knockout stages is expected to be a tall order in Qatar too, with France and Denmark the overwhelming favourites to qualify.
But Arnold believes the Socceroos can emulate Guus Hiddink’s team from 2006 and reach the knockout stages.
‘What I’m looking at is [reaching] the last 16,’ he said.
‘We’ve got to give them a goal and expect to achieve that goal with performances that make the nation proud, and their families proud.’