FIFA rank: 7
France is one of the favorites to win the tournament as of now. They are loaded with stars all over the pitch, with Paul Pogba most notably roaming the midfield. They’re anchored by captain Hugo Lloris in goal who just lead Tottenham Hotspur to Champions League qualification.
Player to watch: N’Golo Kante is one of my personal favorite players, playing for my favorite BPL team in Chelsea. He’s not the biggest, but his defensive prowess combined with an ability to score key goals could be the factor that wins the whole thing for France.
FIFA rank: 11
Despite their high ranking, Peru made it into the tournament by the skin of their teeth, needing a second-leg victory against New Zealand to qualify. They are made up of many solid players who’ve made names for themselves in South America, leading to their lower level of notoriety. Make no mistake however, La Blanquirroja has the pieces and discipline to make noise over the next month.
Player to watch: Paolo Guerrero is the lifeblood of this team. As one of the most popular Peruvian footballers ever, Guerrero has the ability to score tons of goals and is even a dark horse candidate for the golden boot.
FIFA rank: 12
Denmark failed to qualify for 2 of the last 3 World Cups and hasn’t made it to the knockout stage since 2002. This, coupled with their failure to qualify in the first round of the UEFA group made their eventual entrance all the more surprising. In a group that will be a battle for second place, the Danes will certainly be competitive, bringing several players from Europe’s top leagues.
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen is a force in the midfield, and brings veteran presence to this, his second World Cup appearance. Since 2010, he’s tied for 2nd on the team with 77 caps for the Dynamite squad, and has more international goals than all the forwards on the team combined.
FIFA rank: 36
Team summary: Australia isn’t expected to do much at this event. They couldn’t take advantage of a weak AFC, and had to win their play-in game in the second leg against Honduras. They’re led by some older Premier League players, but overall their inexperience in the back line will probably cost them.
Player to watch: If they want to be successful, they’ll need Tim Cahill to play in god-mode. He leads the team with 105 caps and 50 goals for the Socceroos(that’s seriously their nickname) and will need to carry the offense should they hope to make their games against Peru and Denmark competitive (France is going to wreck them).
France vs Australia: Saturday, June 16th, 6am
This will likely be over by halftime, unless France feels any first-game jitters. Either way, France just has too much star power to be challenged here. Score: France 4-0 Australia.
Peru vs Denmark: Saturday, June 16th, 12pm
I’m really looking forward to this one, as it promises to be the most competitive matchup of the group. The teams play different styles entirely, and will be really looking to separate themselves firmly into the 2nd place of the group with a win. Score: Denmark 2-1 Peru.
Australia vs Denmark: Thursday, June 21st, 8am
This is Australia’s best chance to get some points in the group. their path to the knockout round is slim and requires a win here with at least a tie elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, Denmark didn’t go through a brutal qualifying to be a launching pad for the Australians and will likely outmuscle them. Score: Denmark 3-1 Australia.
France vs Peru: Thursday, June 21st, 11am
This will be the most skill-filled matchup in this group. They play similar styles of football, but France has the edge in nearly every position. Of all the group matchups France plays, they’ll likely need to show their prowess in this game. Score: France 3-2 Peru.
Australia vs Peru: Tuesday, June 26th, 10am
The Socceroos won’t have much to play for at this point an Peru will probably be playing with a spot in the knockout stage on the line. The intensity and skill difference will show through in this game, and the result will probably not be in doubt for very long. Score: Peru 3-0 Australia.
France vs Denmark:Tuesday, June 26th, 10am
Of all the opponents that the Danes will need to play, they couldn’t have asked for a tougher task. France is unbeaten vs Denmark going all the way back to 2012, and they have conceded 0 goals(!!) in that time. France will be firmly through by this point, but they’ll still cruise to victory. Score: France 3-1 Denmark.
- France, 9 pts, +7
- Denmark, 6 pts, +1
- Peru, 3 pts, +1
- Autralia, 0 pts, -9