Opponent Watch: Griezmann’s ‘clear mind’ to boost France

It’s game day for the Socceroos as they open their 2018 FIFA World Cup™ campaign against France at 8pm (AEST), live on SBS and Optus Sport.

We’ve got news from all the other nations in Group C ahead of their opening matches, all here in our latest edition of Opposition Watch!

DAY 27 WRAP: Final touches ahead of France clash

PREVIEW: Socceroos v France: The key questions


In a warning to the Socceroos ahead of the clash in Kazan, French boss Didier Deschamps says star striker Antoine Griezmann has "freed his mind" by deciding on his club future.

Griezmann had been linked with a big-money move to Barcelona but has opted to remain with Atletico Madrid in the days before the match with Australia.

In the pre-match press conference ahead of the Socceroos match, Deschamps was relieved his key attacker can now shift all his focus to taking on Bert van Marwijk’s men.  

"Two things that come to mind are his loyalty and commitment to Atletico,” Deschamps told reporters.

“Most importantly he has freed his mind for the World Cup, and it's certainly a very good thing for us."

Deschamps was also quick to play down any notion of France going all the way in Russia, preferring to focus on getting through what looms as a tricky Group C.

"First, we have to win the first group game. We know in recent history we only went twice in to the last 16," he said.

"We know the difficulty despite what some say. We start with a lot of determination, a lot of enthusiasm, but also the necessary humility."


Peru boss Ricardo Gareca is aware of the threat of Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen but says the South Americans have the players to match the Tottenham star.

The Peruvians are preparing to play their first FIFA World Cup™ match in 36 years in a huge clash against the Danes in Saransk in the early hours of Sunday morning (AEST).

And shutting down Eriksen – who scored 11 goals in 12 games in qualification - will be key for Peru if they are to make a winning start in Russia.

"Eriksen is obviously a key player, he is very well known.  We have to be able to face players like him," Gareca told a pre-match press conference.

"But we also have players of that level.

"While he is not the only player we have to concentrate on, I think facing players like him will allow us to grow and learn."


Coach Age Hareide is confident his Denmark squad will handle the pressure of what looms as vital Group C clash against Peru to their hopes of making the last 16.

While France is favourite to top the group, second spot is very much up for grabs meaning the clash in Saransk and claiming all three points takes on huge significance.

"Of course, if we want a good opportunity for second place the three points are very important," Hareide said.

READ: How to follow, watch Socceroos v France clash

POLL RESULTS: The 30 votes between two Socceroos midfielders for France

"We're going all in to win the match. At a World Cup there's always pressure because everybody is watching, but I would say there was more pressure on us in Dublin [in the play-off against the Republic of Ireland] when we had to qualify.

"The players have shown good things in big clubs, they are used to pressure.

“We have built this match up as the important one, so we need to be able to handle the pressure."

There’s just three players in the Denmark squad who have previous experience at a FIFA World Cup™, while Peru is taking part in their first tournament in 36 years.

Christian Eriksen
Danish star Christian Eriksen