2018 FIFA World Cup: Peru hope to gatecrash France, Denmark party
Eight years can be a long time in football. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, France suffered one of their most ignominious exits from the tournament. A public fallout between players and the coaching staff was the prelude to the team getting knocked out in the group stage with just one point to their credit.
The French have turned things around since then. Quarterfinal appearances in the 2012 Euro Championship and the 2014 World Cup, prior to a run to the final in the Euro 2016, have firmly established France as one of the strongest teams.
This summer, France are one of the favourites. With Antoine Griezmann leading a star-studded attack and Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, et al constituting one of the world’s strongest midfields, and coach Didier Deschamps has options at his disposal. The defence could be a problem with its relative inexperience.
France will start against Australia, who are playing their fourth straight World Cup. The Socceroos’ prospects aren’t very bright this time, however. The 38-year-old Tim Cahill is set to play a part while there is experience in the likes of skipper and Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak, Brighton custodian Matthew Ryan, midfield duo Robbie Kruse and Mark Milligan, as well as Hertha Berlin forward Mathew Leckie.
For Peru, qualification for the World Cup after 36 years of heartbreak was met with wild celebrations. The country received a major reprieve as a drug ban on captain Paolo Guerrero was lifted by a Swiss tribunal.
In Russia, the Peruvians will be dependent on Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan. Midfielders Renato Tapia and Christian Cueva will be the backbone with the duo having played a significant role in the team’s World Cup qualification.
Denmark are back at the World Cup after failing to qualify in 2014. Led by the experienced centre back Simon Kjaer, Denmark have an exciting mix of youth and experience. Midfielder Christian Eriksen has been in prolific form for Tottenham Hotspur and as the main creative force for the team, will be key to the team’s hopes in Russia.
Kasper Schmeichel is a calming influence in goal while young forwards Kasper Dolberg, Yussuf Poulsen and Pione Sisto offer a wide range of attacking options to coach Age Hareide. Denmark will face France in their final group game and Hareide will hope his side can seal a Round of 16 spot by then.