Group C is off and running so let’s break it all down!

What Happened

Australia’s rocky relationship with VAR continued in controversial fashion against a French side that stumbled to an unconvincing 2-1 win over the Socceroos. Let’s not beat around the bush here France were lacklustre, which is a perfect anecdote to describe the Peruvian nightmare that transpired in their 1-0 loss to Denmark. Peru created enough chances to win three or four games in their Group C opener, but Kasper Schmeichel and his merry band of Danish defenders withstood a barrage of attacks to end the night with three valuable points.

Both Denmark and Peru will be buoyed by Australia’s performance against France and very quickly Group C is developing into a potential blockbuster right before our eyes.

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Stand Out Performers

  1. A round of applause to the roughly 10,000 Socceroo supporters in attendance last night – they were superb. More of that, please.
  2. Trent Sainsbury was immense last night, especially in the first stanza. Bert van Marwijk has turned the Socceroos into a sound defensive unit and my goodness it has been a long time since Australia has looked that secure and composed at the back.
  3. Peru can take a lot away from their narrow loss to Denmark. The Peruvians played quick, sharp football that will cause problems for France on Friday morning.

Talking Points

France look uninspired, devoid of any real direction or tactical plan and whatever tactical plan Didier Deschamps did bring into the match made life much easier for Australia than it should’ve been. Deschamps will need to tinker a bit with his team because for a squad of this calibre their performance was simply not good enough. Corentin Tolisso never really got going in the match and his replacement Blaise Matuidi brought more balance to the French midfield. Deschamps will probably look to adjust his midfield in matchday 2 against Peru.

What it Means

France and Denmark have a real shot at ensuring an early passage to the knockout stages with respective wins over Peru and Australia in a few days time. On the flip-side Australian and Peruvian players will know that they need to leave their next matches with points of some kind to avoid bidding Russia farewell.

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Needs Work

France need to find an extra gear quickly if they want to make a serious imprint on this World Cup. And for all of Australia’s defensive prowess they never really troubled Hugo Lloris. In fact, Mile Jedinak’s successful penalty was Australia’s only shot on target in the entire match – not good. Van Marwijk is a stout tactical mastermind however, so let’s see what attacking change he brings to the table when they come up against against the Danes.

If Peru is going to go out in the group stages then they’ve shown that it will be on their terms – guns blazing. Peru faces a tough task against France and will need to score first to get anything out of their second match.

What’s Next

Group C kicks back into gear with Australia taking on Denmark at the Samara Arena in the late hours of Thursday night while just a few hours later France and Peru will take to the pitch at the architectural work of art that is Ekaterinburg Arena. Wins for France and the Danes will see Group C practically all wrapped up with a game to spare.

Goal of the Day

In a matchday inundated with spot-kicks, it was Paul Pogba’s dinking winner against Australia that was the pick of the lot from Group C. The dynamic midfielder would start and finish the winning move with an instinctive looping toe-poke over Mat Ryan’s head onto the cross-bar. There was at first a hint of uncertainty but soon enough the goal was awarded with goal-line technology confirming that the ball did indeed cross the line.

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Miss of the Day

Oh, Peru, they did everything except score against Denmark – it was truly a masterclass on how to buckle in-front of goal. The first cab off the rank was Christian Cueva’s penalty miss that had more chance of landing in the streets of Moscow than it did nestling in the back of the net. From that point on it was a procession of anxious near misses from Peru as they pushed and harried for an equaliser. If Cueva tucks that penalty home with half-time looming then I have no doubt in proclaiming that Peru would’ve waltzed to three points last night.

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Josh is in the final stages of a journalism degree at The University of Queensland and is also firmly aboard the Arzani hype-train.