France set to start strong XI in World Cup opener

France look set to start a strong starting 11 against Australia on Saturday morning in their World Cup opener. Didier Deschamps has several high profile players in his squad and has several top class forwards to choose from. The experienced Oliver Giroud could find himself on the bench for the game against Australia given the quality that is in the squad.

Giroud who currently plays with Chelsea in the Premier League having move from Arsenal sustained a head injury in the French sides warm up game against the USA but he has been training with a bandage on his head. RTE are reporting that Deschamps is expected to leave out Giroud who has scored 31 goals in 74 games for the national side, this comes after Giroud was fielded with the substitute team on Wednesday afternoon in training.

This will leave the door open to Kylian Mbappe starting who will be playing in his first World Cup at 19 years of age, while 21 year old Ousmane Dembele is also set to be given a starting role. These are expected to link up with the impressive Antoine Griezmann to complete a deadly trio in attack. Mbappe speaking in training earlier this week said “We are three players who appreciate each other. We put our egos on the side,” , who added he was “100 percent” after taking a knock on his ankle at training earlier this week”.

It will be the youngest French team to start a World Cup since 1930 if Corentin Tolisso who is 23 starts along side Blaise Matuidi in midfield. Mbappe said  ”It can be a strength. We can bring some carefreeness, some joie de vivre in a competition where pressure is always weighing on the squad,”.

In defence, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, both 22, are likely to start on the flanks after impressive displays in the warm-up games, in the absence of the injured Djibril Sidibe. However, he is not completely ruled out of the tournament according to French federation president Noel De Graet, speaking at a press conference he told the media, “I saw all the players today and Sidibe was in good health,”

France begin their tournament on Saturday morning with an 11am game against Austrailia before going on to play Peru and Denmark in their two remaining group games, they are on of the current favourites to win the tournament.

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