Les Blues have had a near-perfect qualification campaign on their road to Russia, finishing at the top of Group A. With a talented squad, Didier Deschamps’ men are sure to advance to the knockout stage. With a steady keeper in Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur, Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane in the back four, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi in the middle, Ousmane Dembele, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann up front, France boasts of a rich squad. Despite a talented squad, the Euro 2016 runner-ups have shown glimpses of struggle with concerns over Pogba’s mixed season with Manchester United. But a relatively easy group is not going to put France under much pressure.
Goalkeepers: Alphone Areola (Paris St Germain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St Germain), Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Adil Rami (Olympique de Marseille), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyonnais), Florian Thauvin (Olympique de Marseille), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
The easier this group is for France to top, it is equally difficult for the Socceroos to survive, considering they finished third in their qualifying group after Japan and Saudi Arabia. Australia count on the experienced Tim Cahill, the country’s legendary striker who will be playing his fourth World Cup, but the 38-year old might have his own battle to fight against age.
New manager Bert Van Marwijk hasn’t had much time to settle in either after their disastrous campaign in 2014 when they lost all group games. In 2006, the Aussie team boasted of top-class players from Premier League as well as La Liga. This time, however, most of the squad to go to Russia is from outside the top four leagues in Europe.
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk).
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall).
Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian).
If there is a surprise package in the teams that qualified for World Cup, it is Peru, who beat South American champions Chile to earn their ticket to Russia. The team will rely on Paolo Guerreiro’s experience as the talismanic striker returns from a drug ban after the captain of each Group C side made an appeal. Guerreiro responded to his return with a resounding brace in a friendly over Saudi Arabia. Peru, however, are still likely to fall short in the Group and their only chance to not do so, if they get the better of Australia, is by toppling one of the two European powers – France and Denmark.
Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Jose Carvallo (UTC), Carlos Caceda (Municipal).
Defenders: Luis Advincula (Lobos), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Aldo Corzo (Universitario), Nilson Loyola (Melgar), Christian Ramos (Veracruz), Alberto Rodriguez (Junior Barranquilla), Anderson Santamaria (Puebla), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo).
Midfielders: Pedro Aquino (Lobos), Wilmer Cartagena (Veracruz), Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo), Edison Flores (Aalborg), Paolo Hurtado (Vitoria Guimaraes), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City).
Strikers: Andre Carrillo (Watford), Raul Ruidiaz (Morelia), Jefferson Farfan (Lokomotiv Moscow), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo).
Denmark hammered Poland 4-0 and then went on to destroy the Republic of Ireland 5-1 in a play-off match on their road to FIFA World Cup 2018. Manager Age Hareide now needs to ensure that his side carries the same momentum to Russia when they kickoff their campaign in a match against Peru on Saturday. With a solid-backline and Tottenham Hotspurs star Christian Eriksen to take care of midfield, and Yussuf Poulsen, Andreas Cornelius to rely on the forward line, Denmark should prove as the biggest threat for France in this group, being the team to overcome Peru and Australia for the second spot. Eriksen was the key player during Denmark’s qualification campaign with his 11 goals.
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield), Frederik Ronow (Brondby).
Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Jens Stryger (Udinese), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich).
Midfielders: William Kvist (FC Copenhagen), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna).
Forwards: Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Viktor Fischer (FC Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax).