November 29, 2022

France vs Australia, Group D, FIFA World Cup 2022: Make way for the world champions. France began their title defence in a Group D meeting against Australia, beating the Socceroos 4-1 in an emphatic display. Olivier Giroud scored two to equal Thierry Henry as France’s highest goalscorer, with Kylian Mbappe and Adrien Rabiot rounding out the result. Quite the day, with Saudi Arabia registering a 2-1 win over Argentina and Tunisia holding Denmark at a 0-0 draw.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia Match Result: Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history to beat Argentina 2-1 in their Group C opener with goals by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari stunning the favourites on Tuesday. The 51st-ranked Saudis were trailing to Lionel Messi’s 10th minute penalty, but Al-Shehri squeezed in an angled shot in the 48th minute after punishing poor Argentine defending.
France vs Australia Line-ups
France XI: Lloris; Pavard, Upamecano, Konate, Lucas Hernandez; Rabiot, Tchouameni; Mbappe, Griezmann, Dembele; Giroud.
Australia XI: Ryan; Behich, Rowels, Souttar, Atkinson; Irvine, Mooy, McGree; Goodwin, Duke, Leckie.
Despite Giroud’s brace, Mbappe was still the best player of the match.

A mercurial display topped off with a goal, Mbappe was a crucial reason why all of France’s attacking threat came from their left channel. He took players on and beat them, brought his teammates into the game, and much like 2018, he is a major cog of Deschamps’ transition-based system. 

He has now scored 12 goals in 11 appearances for France, and has more World Cup goals than Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini. One of the world’s best, thriving on the game’s biggest stage.
Things were far from perfect for France, losing key players to injury and seeing off-field controversies dominate the buildup to their title defence. But, despite going one goal down, the French have been emphatic in their response, playing with fluidity in their front line, and staying true to many of the things that worked for them in 2018.

Denmark and Tunisia’s goalless draw will also boost their chances to top the group now.

A perfect start, becoming the first team since 2002 to get their World Cup title-defence off to a winning start. 

FRA 4-1 AUS.
The experienced campaigner picks up a needless booking, showing just how frustrated the Australians would be after going 1-0 up in eight minutes.

FRA 4-1 AUS.
France’s oldest player at a World Cup, at 36, Giroud comes off to a huge round of applause on a record-equalling night.

Elsewhere, Konate was stopped by an acrobatic save from Ryan to give France a fifth, heading in from a corner unmarked.

FRA 4-1 AUS.
Olivier Giroud equals Henry as France all time topscorer: 51 goals.

He’s still doing incredible also with AC Milan as he scored 22 goals in 55 total apps, winning Serie A title.

Milan invested less than €2m to sign him in 2021. New deal to be discussed soon.

Special player 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/b5Ax8PbE8X
Loose touch from Mbappe, after a brilliant run was found by a teasing pass from Griezmann, takes away a golden opportunity for him to get a second, and France a fifth.

FRA 4-1 AUS.
Australia seeing more of the ball, mostly unopposed by Les Bleus, keen to sit back and conserve energy and latch onto a mistake.

FRA 4-1 AUS.
Incredible World Cup debut for the 22-year-old. Near perfect performance as he is replaced by Seko Fofana, Kingsley Coman also on for Dembele.
51st goal for Giroud. Becomes France’s joint highest-scorer with Thierry Henry.

Emotional scenes as Giroud heads in an Mbappe cross and lays on to the field, hands covering his face.

It was Mbappe again on the left side, wreaking havoc, beating his man, and putting in a well-weighted ball.

FRA 4-1 AUS.
Brilliant header from the 23-year-old.

Dembele collects a stray ball down the right, cuts into his left foot, puts a quick cross in met by Mbappe, in off the post.

The chance came shortly after incredible defensive work from Behich saw Griezmann’s shot cleared off the line. France merit their third.

FRA 3-1 AUS.
Great interplay between France’s forward players. Mbappe linked up with Giroud, playing a one-two off a flick form the striker to get in behind before seeing his shot blocked for a corner. That’s how quickly France can turn it on.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
The game’s tempo has slowed down considerably in the second half, France controlling things by moving the ball around and forcing Australia out of shape to craft a chance.
It was a wild one on Dembele, sliding in after losing the ball and catching his ankle. Socceroos looking frustrated.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
An outrageous effort that nearly connected.

France continue to see a lot of joy down the left, Hernandez first teases a ball in which deflects to Tchouameni, whose effort from the edge of the box is blocked.

Few minutes later he flots one in behind Giroud, who acrobatically goes for the bicycle, but does not find the full connection he was seeking. Would have been aN instantly classic World Cup moment.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
Can Australia claw their way back into a game they once led? 

FRA 2-1 AUS.
A look at Aurelien Tchouameni an you can hardly tell it is a 22-yer-old playing his first major international competition, for the world champions no less. He has effotlessly glided as the anchor between defence and France’s plentiful forward options, dribbled through opposition pressure, passed smartly and boldly, all while winning aerial duels and tackles too.

With him in the side, France don’t miss the presence of N’Golo Kante quite as much. No wonder Real Madrid shelled out nearly €100 million for him in the summer.
Aurelien Tchouameni’s first half by numbers vs. Australia:

94% pass accuracy
60 touches
4/4 ground duels won
4/4 tackles won
3 interceptions

Flawless performance in midfield. 💫 pic.twitter.com/tFZHhRgzF8
Ever since the injury-induced introduction of Theo Hernandez, France have had a field day down their left channel, getting overlaps going, and using Mbappe’s pace and dribbling skills to open up space for his teammates. Both goals, and many chances, came from that channel.

Australia need to tighten up that side of their defence, maybe with an extra body, or help from right winger Leckie.
Australia’s opening goal seems a distant while in the past now, as ever since France have equalised, they have dominated proceedings. Two goals from Rabiot and Giroud but they very well could have had more. They go into the break in the lead, but given Australia’s injury time chance, the game is not a foregone conclusion yet.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
Out of nowhere, Australia nearly equalise!

Irvine was found by a deflected crossed, he scuffed his header, and Lloris stood still thinking it was going wide, as it hit the post and went out. Big scare.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
Griezmann is found by Upamecano with a brilliant diagonal, he drives in and plays Mbappe, who misses from point blank range. France should have another.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
This time it is Griezmann. France winn the ball high up the pitch and find him at the edge of the box, his grounded strike goes just by the right post.

FRA 2-1 AUS.
Mbappe, in particular, has been in the eye of the storm since missing that fateful penalty against Switzerland that knocked France out of Euro 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
The Champions Curse. This is an often referred term whispered around the football circuits, every time the World Cup comes around. The defending champions more often than not fail to rise up to the occasion when it comes to defending the crown.
Since 2002, except Brazil in 2006, every team trying to retain the World Cup, have exited from the Group stage. France was eliminated from the group in 2002, Italy was gone in a flash in 2010, Spain was brought to its knees in 2014 and Germany fell on its face in 2018. That’s 5 times in 6 World Cups that the defenders of the cup had to take the flight home without qualifying for the knockouts.
 

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