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Football

France meet familiar foes to start World Cup defence

France is starting their defense of the World Cup trophy in a group that looks a lot like the group they started in four years ago in Russia. They are hoping to learn from history and not make the same mistakes.

Les Bleus will start their World Cup campaign against Australia, just like they did in 2018, and they will also play Denmark in Group D.

In Qatar, the only difference is that Tunisia finishes the group instead of Peru, who lost an intercontinental qualifying play-off to the Socceroos on penalties.

France come into this World Cup billed as one of the leading contenders to go all the way, but past experience should teach them to be wary.

Since Brazil in 1962, no country has been able to keep the trophy, and the last time the French were the defending champions and went to the tournament, they quickly went home with their tails between their legs.

After winning the World Cup at home in 1998, they went to South Korea four years later as the defending European champions and clear favorites to win another title.

Because Zinedine Zidane was hurt, they lost their first game to Senegal and didn’t even score a goal. They were knocked out in the group stage.

The team coached by Didier Deschamps is led in attack by the great Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema, who just won the Ballon d’Or. It seems unlikely that this will happen again.

Antoine Griezmann, Christopher Nkunku, and Ousmane Dembele should make it easy for Les Bleus to score goals, but they have other problems.

In 2018, their best midfielders, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, are out with injuries, and a number of others have been having trouble getting back in shape.

“At our last meeting, we were dealing with a lot of injuries, but we know how hard the World Cup is for everyone,” coach Didier Deschamps told AFP last month.

He also said, “France is still a competitive team, but we know we’ll have to do a lot” to keep the trophy.

DANGEROUS DANES

Denmark, who made it to the semifinals of Euro 2020 despite Christian Eriksen’s shocking injury, look like they could be dangerous.

In 10 qualifying games, they won nine and scored 30 goals. In their last Uefa Nations League campaign, they beat France both at home and away.

“There is a strong work ethic and a strong desire to get better as a group. If we keep giving up things for each other, we can be really good “Now that Manchester United midfielder Eriksen is back, coach Kasper Hjulmand is happy.

In their second game, France plays Denmark, which could be a big factor in deciding who wins the group. If France wins, they could face Argentina in the last 16.

Since the 2006 World Cup, Australia hasn’t made it out of their group and hasn’t won a game at either of the last two World Cups.

Graham Arnold’s team barely made it to Qatar, and for a team that doesn’t have many players who play in major European leagues, just winning a game this time would be a big deal.

Meanwhile Tunisia are dreaming of getting out of their group at a World Cup for the first time at what will be their sixth attempt.

In 2018, the Carthage Eagles were seconds away from holding England to a draw, which can give them hope for this campaign.

Jalel Kadri’s team will be targeting a victory against the Socceroos in their second game to give themselves a chance of making history and reaching the knockout phase.

They will get ideas for attacks from Wahbi Khazri, who was born in Corsica.

Ellyes Skhiri, a midfielder from Cologne who was also born in France, said, “We know we are not among the favorites, but anything can happen in a major competition, and we will try to surprise everyone.”