Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
World Cup holders France kick-off the defence of their title against Australia on Tuesday night, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing in the warm-up for boss Didier Deschamps. After an early exit in the Euros last year, the French finished third in a dismal Nations League campaign this season.
Since then, Christopher Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe and Karim Benzema were ruled out of the tournament. Their successful midfield pairing in 2018 of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba also miss out this time around, so what kind of shape will the champions be in for their opener?
France vs Australia Ultimate Bet Builder
Kylian Mbappe to score
Deschamps would have planned a two-man attack featuring both Benzema and Mbappe, but there’s little doubt who the main man is for the French going into this clash. He’s scored four times in six games for France in 2022, while he heads to Qatar in brilliant scoring form for his club. With 12 strikes in only 14 Ligue 1 appearances this term, the PSG forward should be good for a goal against a poor Australian side.
Olivier Giroud to make an assist
Expect Mbappe to be partnered by AC Milan’s Giroud on Tuesday, with the former Chelsea and Arsenal striker playing well in Serie A this term. He has a fantastic scoring record for France, sitting just two goals shy of the nation’s scoring record. However, he’s turned creator for Milan this term with five assists, including three in his last three games before the World Cup. Back him to set up a goal in their opening clash too.
Benjamin Pavard to have 1+ shots on target
Pavard is probably best remembered for his brilliant strike for France in the last 16 in Russia four years ago, but he remains an attacking threat from left-back. The Bayern Munich defender has had six shots on target for the Bavarian giants this term, but he’s likely to get even more licence to roam with France.
Deschamps is expected to start with a narrow three-man midfield, which will require overlapping full-backs to provide any width. Pavard excelled with deep runs for France in 2018 and I’m backing him to follow that up with a shot on target against Australia.
Aaron Mooy to make 2+ fouls
Finally, Celtic midfielder Mooy has struggled at times in the Scottish Premiership this season and given the step-up in quality that he faces on Tuesday this could be a tough night for him. He barely featured in Celtic’s Champions League campaign and now he’s being tasked with marshalling the midfield and protecting the defence against an elite French side. Back Mooy to be off the pace and make a couple of fouls as a result.
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