Why France’s line-up to face Tunisia could be BAD NEWS for Australia: Didier Deschamps calls in the reserves for final Group D game, opening the door for African side to leapfrog the Socceroos into the last-16
France’s starting XI for their final Group D clash against Tunisia has been revealed, and it could be bad news for Australia after several big guns were benched.
Les Bleus have made a perfect start to their World Cup defence, beating the Socceroos and Denmark to secure an early progression to the last 16.
France need only a point to guarantee top-spot in Group D, giving them a potentially easier fixture in the knockouts, though it could conceivably be Argentina they face in doing so.
France boss Didier Deschamps has opted to bench Kylian Mbappe for their final Group D game
That could spell trouble for the Socceroos, who need a favour from the French to advance
With maximum points from their two prior outings, Deschamps has been afforded the luxury of rotating his side for their final group game, which will come as a major boost given the extensive injury list the 54-year-old is having to negotiate.
Karim Benzema, Christopher Nkunku, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Lucas Hernandez are all unavailable for the reigning champions.
With a mounting injury list, Deschamps has tried playing Eduardo Camavinga at left back in a training game to test his suitability as possible cover for the injured Hernandez – and the 20-year-old starts in defence today.
Monaco’s Axel Disasi, typically a centre back, has also been named at right back.
Graham Arnold is aiming to send Australia to the last-16 for the first time since 2006
But that news will be very badly received by Australia boss Graham Arnold, with the Socceroos hoping to reach their first knockout round in 16 years when they face Denmark.
A win over the Danes will guarantee their spot in the last-16, but a draw makes things more complicated. In that situation, a Tunisia win over France will see the African side leapfrog the Aussies into second spot.
So a weakened French side opens the door for that prospect to become a reality.
There was talk beforehand of a potential start for Steve Mandanda, with captain Hugo Lloris resting ahead of the knockout stages, and indeed it’s the 37-year-old veteran who starts between the sticks today.
Former Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guandouzi, now playing for French outfit Marseille, has also been handed a starting role in midfield.
Confirmed France XI: Mandanda; Disasi, Varane, Konate, Camavinga; Coman, Tchouameni, Veretout, Guendouzi; Kolo Muani.
Didier Deschamps has been able to rotate his squad with France safely through to the last 16
France’s World Cup squad was hit by injuries before the World Cup – including Karim Benzema
France are looking to become the third team to confirm a spot in the last 16 as group winners, with Holland and England becoming the first sides to do so on Tuesday.
The outcome of this afternoon’s clash will have significant ramifications for the evening fixtures, where Argentina and Poland go head-to-head, most likely knowing finishing runner-up in the group will set up an unwanted clash against France in the next round.
France, in topping the group, would play against the Group C runners-up on Sunday, December 4 at the Al Thumama Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.
Should the unthinkable happen and France finish as runners-up, they will play on Saturday, December 3 at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, with kick-off at 7pm.