If the FIFA World Rankings are to be believed, then Group C should be a close-run affair with World Number 9 France taking on World Number 11 Peru and World Number 12 Denmark, with World Number 38 Australia also in there.
However, as France are a best-priced 1/3 to top Group C, have the bookies or FIFA got it wrong?
2018 Wold Cup Group C Betting Guide
France 1/3, Denmark 11/2, Peru 15/1, Australia 25/1
France are young and full of flair but, as they’re managed by one of the best defensive-midfielders the world has ever seen in Didier Deschamps, they’re also well-organised – all things that make France look worthy contenders for the 2018 World Cup. However, this excellent French squad is yet to deliver on the world’s biggest stages, having exited at the quarter-finals at the hands of Germany in Rio in 2014, and failed to beat Portugal to win Euro 2016 in France in 2016.
France’s good teams of the past have usually progressed to the latter stages of the competition though, having finished third in 1958, fourth in 1982, third in 1986, won in 1998, and finished runner-up in 2006.
In Antoine Griezmann, who scored 6 goals at Euro 2016, they also have a striker capable of firing them all the way if he can recapture that form after a quieter than normal season so far.
Denmark are no strangers to success having won the 1992 European Championships, and were one of the teams that most countries would have wanted to avoid in the third-seeded pot.
They started World Cup Qualifying with two defeats, but bounced back with a run of 11 unbeaten games to snatch a place in the play-offs. That run of form included a 4-0 victory over Poland, and then Denmark ran riot with a 5-1 play-off win. A great deal will rest on the shoulders of playmaker Christian Eriksen, and it will be interesting to see whether the better-class of opposition can shut him out in his present form.
They don’t have a bad record in the World Cup either, having qualified for the knockout stages in 3 of the 4 World Cup Finals they’ve qualified for, with their best-performance seeing them reach the quarter-finals in 1998.
Peru reached the quarter-finals in 1970, but this will be their first appearance at the World Cup Finals since 1982. As most of Peru’s better players are based in Mexico, the other managers may find it hard to do their homework on them, they may have a few surprises up their sleeves. However, their chances could be dealt a massive blow if Captain Paolo Guerrero is banned for doping offences by FIFA, as they’ll miss his goals.
The Aussies always play with spirit, but even that’s only been good enough to get them through to the knockout stages once in 4 attempts, losing 8 of their 12 matches at those World Cup Finals. Mile Jedinak is their star player and, as he plays for Aston Villa, that suggests a lack of real quality – and surely even ageing talisman Tim Cahill can’t lift them to glory.
It will be a shock if Peru or Australia qualify for the knockout stages, let alone top the group, and this should be a battle between France and Denmark. However, as it’s France who usually comes out on top when the teams play each other, France should be a banker for many World Cup Group Accas.