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WORLD CUP PREVIEW: France vs. Australia – Prediction, Team News, Lineups

An injury-hit France side begin the defence of their global title when they tackle Australia in Tuesday’s World Cup 2022 Group D opener at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Les Bleus went all the way in Russia four years ago, while the Socceroos are aiming to end a run of three successive group-stage exits.

TEAM NEWS

Injury after injury after injury has been the theme for France even before the first ball has been kicked, with Saturday night’s headlines being made after Karim Benzema was made to withdraw after picking up a thigh issue, having just returned to full training alongside Raphael Varane.

Deschamps will not name a replacement for Benzema, and he has also been forced to swap Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku out for Axel Disasi and Randal Kolo Muani respectively.

Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are expected to form the attacking quartet in Benzema’s absence, and with Varane possibly not being risked for the opening matchday, Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano could line up at the back.

Deschamps has affirmed that Varane is fit to start, though, while Eduardo Camavinga sat out training on Sunday with discomfort but should be fine for the opening day.

France are not the only ones to have been cursed on the injury front, as Hibernian striker Martin Boyle has been nursing a knee problem and has been forced to withdraw from the squad.

Marco Tilio has replaced the 29-year-old, and Arnold otherwise has all members of his squad fit and raring to go – Ajdin Hrustic has reportedly been working as normal recently following his own injury concern, but he will start on the bench.

Stoke City defender Harry Souttar has affirmed that he is ready to feature on the opening matchday, despite a distinct lack of match practice since his ACL surgery, and Arnold has affirmed that he is ready to start.

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Pavard, Upamecano, Konate, Lucas Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Australia possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Atkinson, Souttar, Rowles, Behich; McGree, Mooy, Irvine; Leckie, Duke, Goodwin

PREDICTION

We say: France 2-0 Australia

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