France take on Australia as holders’ curse lingers on

Insight Online News

Doha, Nov 22 : When France walks onto the field to take on Australia in the FIFA World Cup here on Wednesday, the main worry of the entire squad will be on how to avoid the curse.

And this curse has been for many years on. Except Brazil in 2006, all defending champions were knocked off in the subsequent group stage, with Italy (2010), Spain (2014) and Germany (2018), the most recent nations to pay the price.

And Les Blues go into the tournament as current defending champions, is a cause of worry as the crowning title has been a heavy burden so far in this century.

Indeed, no one in the France camp will need reminding of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup when they were sent packing after just three games including a painful and unforgettable loss to Senegal, after they were crowned for the first time in 1998.

Didier Deschamps’ men have been warned. Now it is up to their coach to navigate a successful route through Group D.

On the flipside, Australia are a tough nut to crack as they are difficult to outmanoeuvre.

Graham Arnold may not boast of a galaxy of stars in his side, but his boys fighting and collective spirit makes them a dangerous unit as they displayed in their qualifiers against Peru and UAE.

Deschamps will look to topple the Socceroos with a squad well versed in high-profile international tournaments. Above all, the world champions possess a constellation of stars in attack, led by Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann.

In five previous meetings with Australia, Les Bleus have lost just once: a 1-0 defeat at the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.

More recently, France eked out a hard-fought victory against the Australians at Russia 2018, before going on to lift the Trophy a few weeks later. No doubt they would sign up immediately for a repeat performance, to banish the “holders’ curse” for the first time this century.

“I think it will be a tough game, like in 2018. The Australians caused us problems more than once. After that, we were fortunate enough to win and get off to a good start in the competition. We’re expecting the same kind of opponents this year,” France defender Theo Hernandez said.


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