AFTER falling at the final hurdle on home soil at Euro 2016, France are hoping to go one step further in Russia and win their first World Cup since 1998. Ross Casey (@RossCasey24) offers his World Cup betting advice for Les Blues' opener against Australia.
Australia v France | Saturday 16th June 2018, 11:00 | BBC
France have been made clear favourites to win this one with best odds of just 2/7.
Both sides come into this tournament on the back of a run of one loss in their last six matches, although it must be said that Australia's six matches have been less taxing than France's.
That being said the 1-1 draw last time out for Les Bleus against USA will raise some concern for favourite backers here.
Australia had to enter the play-off system to reach this World Cup, finishing behind Saudi Arabia on goal difference and head-to-head records. Anyone who saw the Saudi's terrible performance during their opening contest will now have concerns for the Socceroos.
Their Confederations Cup campaign was not a success last summer, finishing on two points over three games. However, they did score in each of their three games, proving that they do offer some attacking threat.
That has carried on in their recent fixtures too, with seven of their last nine matches ending with Australia having found the back of the net – including a very impressive 4-0 win over the Czech Republic earlier this month.
It has been a difficult few months for them in the managerial stakes as Ange Postecoglou resigned after qualification and Bert Van Marwijk has taken control for this tournament before Graham Arnold takes over straight after the conclusion of their campaign.
According to the latest odds, Marathon are offering 15/1 on an upset win. Perhaps this is on offer thanks to their last meeting, when France destroyed the Aussies 6-0.
It will be interesting to see how Australia approach this game as they seemed to employ a whole different formation and style of play in their 0-0 draw with Colombia, perhaps that was a practice run for this fixture and they won't be as expansive here?
Didier Deschamps has such a ridiculous talent pool that the likes of Dimitri Payet and Anthony Martial were left at home for this World Cup. This strength in depth can count against them at times though as it can be hard to pick a settled side and really push on when you have such competition for every place on the pitch.
I think in part that is what sees them pick up some weird results from time to time such as their draws against Luxembourg and Belarus and their defeat to Albania.
It's important that France do not underestimate Australia here – those previous results are proof that can be the case for this squad in the past. Their attack is undoubtedly one of the most threatening of all the 32 teams in Russia this summer, but there are real question marks over their ability to defend.
Les Bleus have conceded in six of their last nine matches and with Hugo Lloris suffering a crisis of confidence this season in goal for Tottenham, he is under scrutiny too.
They should still have enough about them to beat this Australia side over 90 minutes, especially as they have lost just one of their last 12 matches.
The betting angle
I think that France will pick up the win here but that is far too short to offer as a selection, so get them in the Win & Both Teams To Score market with a best price of 74/25 with Marathon.
This bet has landed in six of their last 11 victories and with Australia netting in seven of their last nine games including six in their last two, I fancy them to breach the France defence – but ultimately come up short.
I also have a 3/1 (SkyBet) play on Mile Jedinak being booked. The midfield powerhouse has been booked in his last two matches he has played as he is often a little late with challenges, or happy to take the booking when chasing faster players than him in the heat of battle.
Against some dynamic French midfielders, I can definitely see him being carded here.