World Cup Group C: France and Peru both feel urgency
Peru and France are set to square in an intense battle at Central Stadium (Yekaterinburg), in a match that could well shape Group C of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. While both teams are coming off different results in their respective tournament openers, the aim for this one remains the same: get a win and put themselves in a position to reach the last sixteen.
France won their first game in an unconvincing manner, defeating Australia 2-1, thanks to a penalty scored by Antoine Griezmann and an own goal from Aziz Behich. It was a performance that left plenty to be desired, Didier Deschamps should be expecting more from his players. On the other hand, Peru lost 0-1 to Denmark in a game they dominated.
Who'll have the upper hand in this intriguing counter? The two teams have met just once in the past. France won that game 1-0, but it happened over thirty years ago, back in 1982.
FIFA Ranking: 7th
France are arguably the toughest teams to analyse at this World Cup. They have enough talent to compete against any team in the world, and could realistically assemble two competitive squads given all the talent available. That’s the exact reason why their performance against Australia was so perplexing… they needed a penalty kick and an own goal to defeat a clearly inferior side. But they need to be better for this game Peru represents a much tougher challenge.
Deschamps is expected to make quite a few changes to his starting XI before this one. Djibril Sidibe is reportedly doubtful due to a knee injury, but chances are, he will find his way to the starting XI as Benjamin Pavard failed to inspire last time out. Blaise Matuidi will likely play over Corentin Tolisso, with Olivier Giroud coming into the side to partner Antoine Griezmann up top. It'll likely be the talented Ousmane Dembele dropping to the bench.
France simply must do more in this one. If Peru brings their A-game, this will be no walk in the park.
FIFA Ranking: 11th
The Peruvians did everything right in their first game against Denmark, but they couldn't stick the ball in the back of the net. It started with Christian Cueva missing a penalty, from them on, the team looked brutally inaccurate on the attacking end and failed to capitalise on their chances en-route to a 1-0 loss. Now, the scenario for them is rather simple: a win would keep them alive, a draw would put them in a complicated position, while defeat practically sends them home.
Ricardo Gareca is not expected to make too many changes to the side that played in the season opener, although Paolo Guerrero could start considering this game is against the toughest side in the Group. The presence of the Flamengo striker is absolutely key for the South Americans. When substituted on last time out, his presence was immediately felt. The rest of the side should be the same that played against the Danes, although either Jefferson Farfan or Andre Carrillo will be left feeling unlucky, should they make way for the aforementioned 34-year-old.
In terms of injuries, Renato Tapia is doubtful. The Feyenoord midfield picked up a knock against Denmark. Pedro Aquino is more than capable of taking his place if the central midfielder cannot play.
Peru have their backs against the wall in this game, as they know that a defeat could end up in an early elimination during the group stage. However, that might not be enough for them in what is expected to be a tough game against France; who are amongst the contenders to win the whole tournament.
This game has all the makings to be an exciting contest, but France should have the upper hand here. Les Bleus should be celebrating another three-points at full-time.