We take a look at three players who could play an important role for their respective nations as France take on Australia in Group C at the 2018 World Cup.
Group C has been tipped to be a three-way race for the second spot, with France touted to be the clear favourites for the top spot. But, Australia will be keen on providing the French a rude reality check as they face each other to kick off their respective campaigns in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
While the match in itself will be one where an array of stars take to the field, as is the case in almost every match at the World Cup, there are some players who would be more crucial or integral to how the respective Nation plan on playing or integral to their hopes. We, at the Hard Tackle would like to propose three names to watch during the match.
With Samuel Umtiti a doubt for the opener, there are reports that Benjamin Pavard will be given the nod in central defence. A Pavard-Varane partnership sounds mouth-watering, with two lanky easy-on-the-ball defenders manning the central line.
But, Pavard has to be wary of not getting caught up at the big stage, as is often the case with big occasions and inexperienced players.
The Stuttgart man might not be as elite of a defender as Samuel Umtiti, but there is no doubt as to his quality. Pavard also comes into the event on the back of a clean Bundesliga season with Stuttgart, wherein he featured in each and every match for the club.
Who knows, a good display here might open the doors to a better proposition at club level come the end of the World Cup.
Much has been made of the Manchester United superstar and his lack of consistency. At the international level as well, Pogba has embodied a man who perhaps, tries to do just a tad too much all the time. The performance against USA was another one of those times where everything he attempted mostly came off.
But, there was little end product. With the big stage upon Pogba, maybe it is time to dial down the showboating and flair and focus more on adding end product to his play on a more consistent basis.
When on fire, Pogba is the best midfielder in the world. When not, he might still be capable of walking into most starting elevens at club level. Within the French national setup though, Pogba cannot afford a sub-par performance against Australia.
He has Deschamps’ backing. But, the manager will always favour getting a better performance from the squad than insist on starting an inconsistent player. Pogba must show up.
One of the genuine stars for Australia, Mooy may not have had the chance to play for Manchester City while being on their books. But, what the move to England did for him was pit him against top-tier oppositions – all of which Mooy dealt with aplomb.
His playmaking ability has really come to the fore in the Premier League, but it is his developing box-to-box presence that could prove to be the trump card for Australia, especially if Bert van Marwijk decides to switch to a 4-5-1 to cramp the space in midfield.
It is time for the midfield general to show he can own up to the big names on the opposite end.