Opponent watch: France flex their muscles

France continued their build-up to a mouth-watering FIFA World Cup opener against the Caltex Socceroos, seeing off the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in Paris on Tuesday morning.

Didier Deschamps fielded an experimental side in 4-3-2-1 formation, with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud playing as a lone striker, supported by Paris Saint-Germain wonder-kid Kylian Mbappe and Lyon's Nabil Fekir.

Antoine Griezmann replaced Fekir for the last 25 minutes and will be a favourite to start, possibly in place of Fekir, against Australia on June 16.

Others who didn't start this match but could feature in the starting XI in Kazan included first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, midfielder N'Golo Kante and FC Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele.

That's not to mention Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba who Deschamps has struggled to fit into his best eleven against Ireland.



With Lloris rested, vastly experienced Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi wore the captain's armband and when Kante joins him in the engine-room, that pair will form the base from which France's attacking weaponry can be launched.

Giroud opened the scoring after 40 minutes at Stade de France, poking home from close range after his initial header was saved by Colin Doyle.


Fekir added an eye-catching second just four minutes later, finding space in a crowded penalty area and unleashing a shot which Doyle was unable to keep out.

France dominated possession with 78% and fired off 17 shots on goal compared to just two for the visitors.

France have two more World Cup warm-up matches before heading to their base in Russia; they meet Italy in Nice on Friday and the USA in Lyon on Saturday June 9.


Peru will play the first of three World Cup warm-up matches on Friday, having not played an international for over two months.



Peru will host Scotland in a farewell match at Estadio Nacional in Lima, the venue at which they secured their return to the World Cup in November after a 36-year absence.

Australia's game three opponents in Russia will then meet Saudi Arabia in Switzerland and Sweden in Gothenburg before touching down in Russia.


Denmark will also lock horns with Sweden as they put the finishing touches on their World Cup build-up.



Age Hareide's side will meet their Scandinavian neighbours in Stockholm on Sunday before welcoming Mexico to Brondby a week later.

The Danes will be Australia's second opponents at the World Cup, the two set to meet in Samara on June 21.