Opponent Watch: FIFA World Cup winner doubts France chances

France are figuring prominently among the pre-tournament favourites for the FIFA World Cup™, but a former favourite is unsure if the current crop can go all the way.

Meanwhile, a key Group C star has been pulled away from his team's training camp, while a dark horse are being backed to break all expectations.

Catch up with the latest news a week out from kick-off in the latest Opponent Watch.

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France great Frank Leboeuf has voiced doubts over whether his country can repeat the triumph of 1998.

The ex-Chelsea man, who played alongside Didier Deschamps for club and country, helped Les Bleus beat Brazil in the final to achieve the ultimate glory 20 years ago.

But speaking on ESPN FC, the retired defender revealed his belief that Deschamps' side would fall short.

"Personally, I don't think we can win because I think some national teams are better than us," Lebouef said.

"A magical thing can happen, but I think there are lots of little details in that team that makes me think it's going to be very hard compared to Spain or Brazil especially."

Leboeuf also admitted he was unsure over whether Paul Pogba would start against the Caltex Socceroos on June 16.

The Manchester United midfielder has come under increasing scrutiny in his homeland for underperforming at international level.

Frank Leboeuf
Frank Leboeuf scaled the heights in 1998.


France might not go all the way but how about another of Australia's Group C opponents, Peru?

Data company Gracenote have given the South Americans a 22 per cent chance to reach the semi-finals and a five per cent chance to take out the entire tournament.

That ranks them higher than each of Belgium, England and Portugal.

Gracenote's formula is based on the Elo points system and was used in one million simulations, concluding Brazil as the outright favourite to be crowned champions for a sixth time.

As for Australia? According to the data, the Caltex Socceroos will find it tough to reach the knockout rounds. If only we could have Paul the Octopus on our side.

Peru loom as a Group C danger.


Christian Eriksen's preparations for his maiden FIFA World Cup have been hit with an interruption, albeit a welcome one.

The Tottenham star was forced to duck out of Denmark's training camp to be bedside for the birth of his son on Monday.

As a result the 26-year-old missed the 0-0 draw with Sweden over the weekend, but rejoined his team-mates on Thursday and was back into training.

National team boss Age Hareide had until then allowed the playmaker to remain in Odense to avoid the "stress" of travelling to and from the training camp in Helsingor.

Denmark meet Mexico in their final pre-tournament friendly early Sunday morning (4:00am AEST).

Christian Eriksen
Key man Eriksen will be welcomed back by Denmark.