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World Cup Group C Betting Preview

Overview of the group

The World Cup Group C odds suggest that France should cruise through to the last 16, but a quick glance at the FIFA rankings may make punters think again.

Les Bleus are the highest-rated team at number nine, but Peru and Denmark are right behind them at 11 and 12 respectively.

Australia may have most to prove, as they are down at 36, but France coach Didier Deschamps is taking nothing for granted, saying: "We're not going to get through it just by clicking our fingers!"

Even so, Les Bleus do head into the 2018 World Cup as one of the shortest-priced favourites to top their pool and are regarded as leading contenders to lift the trophy.

The 1998 champions were only edged out 1-0 in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Germany four years ago in Brazil and were then runners-up at Euro 2016 on home turf.

Key players such as Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba should now be at the peak of their powers, with a great blend of proven veterans and exciting youngsters around them.

The World Cup fixtures also appear to favour France, with games against Australia and Peru coming before what is considered their toughest test versus Denmark. All three rivals do have past history of upsetting the odds, though.

The Danes sprang a major surprise when prevailing at the European Championships in 1992, while Peru played a thrilling brand of football to reach the 1970 World Cup quarter-finals.

Australia made it through to the knockout stages in 2006 and the Socceroos are renowned for their fighting spirit, so Deschamps may be right to be wary!

World Cup Betting Odds

France to win the World Cup @ 11/2

Denmark to win the World Cup @ 80/1

Peru to win the World Cup @ 150/1

Australia to win the World Cup @ 200/1

The key questions answered

Can France go all the way?

The talent available to Deschamps is arguably on a par with any other team at the 2018 World Cup.

Up front Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe will both feature prominently in the World Cup betting to be the top goalscorer, while Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud add to the firepower.

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Manchester United duo Anthony Martial and Pogba should ensure plenty of service to whoever is chosen up front and N'Golo Kante proved in winning the Premier League with Leicester and then Chelsea just how important a role he plays in protecting the defence.

There are plenty of reasons to think France can win the World Cup, yet punters could be forgiven for needing some convincing.

Several of their star players have had mixed seasons, either due to injury or a loss of form, so their confidence may not be as high as Deschamps would have liked.

France's defeat on home soil in the final of Euro 2016 was a major disappointment and dropping points against Belarus and Luxembourg in qualifying were a cause for concern.

This is a squad packed with quality but whether they have the strength and character to win the World Cup for the first time on foreign soil remains to be seen.

Why has Australia's coach changed since qualifying?

Many coaches pay with their jobs when a World Cup qualifying campaign ends in failure but Australia found themselves in the unusual position of searching for a new manager despite securing a place at the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Ange Postecoglou helped Australia reach a fourth successive World Cup when they beat Honduras over two legs in a play-off in November, but then announced his resignation later that month.

He stated the qualifying campaign had taken its toll "both personally and professionally", with draws against Saudi Arabia, Japan, Thailand and Iraq and then needing extra time to get past Syria meaning Australia laboured to qualify.

Former Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk (pictured below) was named as his successor in late January. The Dutchman took his own nation to the final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they were beaten by Spain.

Van Marwijk secured Saudi Arabia's qualification for Russia 2018 - competing against Australia in the process - but left his role as manager after failing to agree a new contract. He has also coached Feyenoord, Hamburg and Borussia Dortmund.

How important is Christian Eriksen for Denmark?

No country that has qualified for the World Cup can be labelled as a one-man team but it is fair to say that Denmark rely on their playmaker more than most.

Christian Eriksen almost single-handedly secured Denmark's World Cup place with his hat-trick in the second leg of their play-off against the Republic of Ireland.

The Tottenham midfielder had been kept quiet in the first leg but was given more time and space to play in Dublin and took full advantage with a stunning hat-trick in a 5-1 win for the Danes to take his goal tally to 11 during qualifying.

Eriksen has produced similar form for Tottenham in both the Premier League and Champions League this season and his quality should ensure Denmark are too strong for Peru and Australia, even if France can stifle him.

Key players

France - Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann was the star of Euro 2016 when he was named player of the tournament after top-scoring with six goals. Mbappe is the new kid on the block and helped Monaco reach last season's Champions League semi-finals before moving to PSG, while Pogba is still only 24 despite his experience.

Australia - Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy, Tim Cahill

Mooy pulls the strings in midfield and is as crucial for Australia as he has been for Huddersfield in his debut season in the Premier League. Veteran Cahill has scored for Australia at the three previous World Cups - only three players have netted at four - and grabbed 11 in qualifying. Captain Jedinak leads by example, scoring a hat-trick against Honduras to book Australia's place at the World Cup.

Peru - Jefferson Farfan, Alberto Rodriguez, Edison Flores

Former PSV Eindhoven and Schalke striker Farfan made his Peru debut 15 years ago but is still a key player, scoring vital goals in qualifying against Paraguay and then New Zealand. Defender Rodriguez helped Braga reach the Europa League final in 2011 while exciting young winger Flores netted five times in qualifying.

Denmark - Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer

Eriksen will surely be vital to Denmark's hopes of progressing beyond the group stage and has the ability to unlock even the best defences, as he proved against for Tottenham against Juventus this season. Schmeichel is following in the footsteps of his father Peter and won the Premier League with Leicester, while Sevilla defender Kjaer is the key component of a Danish backline which conceded just nine goals in 12 qualifying games.

Who will qualify?

France are capable of some unexpected setbacks, such as when they failed to beat Luxembourg for the first time since 1914 after a goalless draw in September.

They hit the woodwork twice, though, and had 34 shots so perhaps it is best not to read too much into that result, and France are clear favourites in the World Cup Group D betting.

Australia are expected to struggle, given the way they needed extra time to get past Syria over two legs, but Denmark and Peru will both fancy their chances of reaching the last 16.

Peru twice held Argentina to a draw in qualifying but we fancy Denmark, with the quality and experience of the likes of Eriksen and Schmeichel, to edge them out for second place.

Dates of games

June 16: France v Australia (11am, BBC)

June 16: Peru v Denmark (5pm, BBC)

June 21: Denmark v Australia (1pm, ITV)

June 21: France v Peru (4pm, ITV)

June 26: Denmark v France (3pm, ITV)

June 26: Australia v Peru (3pm, ITV4)

Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in World Cup