Four years ago, France started their run to a second world title with a 2-1 win over the Socceroos, though it took a penalty and an 81st-minute own goal to seal the three points. 34 places separate Les Bleus in fourth from Australia in the FIFA Rankings. France has already lost two-thirds of its midfield from the last World Cup, with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté set to miss the tournament. Centre-back Presnel Kimpembe would probably have been in the starting eleven before being ruled out through injury, and a training ground knock has also robbed France of Chelsea target Christopher Nkunku. For their opponents, after an ACL injury, Stoke’s Harry Souttar has returned just in time to take part.
France won just one of their six Nations League games and haven’t played since suffering a 2-0 loss to Denmark. Australia’s only outings since qualifying were victories home and away against New Zealand. France will be hoping to avoid the curse that has seen the past four World Cup winners from Europe crash out in the Group Stage, and a win in Al Janoub Stadium would go a long way towards avoiding the same fate.