Peru are set for a huge boost approaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a key player set to return to action in coming days.
Denmark appear supremely confident of getting through the group stage in Russia, while there’s an injury concern for France while some fringe players are doing their best to impress coach Didier Deschamps.
It’s all here in this week’s Opponent Watch.
Peru have received some good news less than two months out from the tournament with first-choice goalkeeper Pedro Gallese nearing a return to action.
The number one’s fitness has been an ongoing source of concern as he battles to be ready for the South American nation’s opening group game against Denmark on June 16.
Gallese was initially expected to miss six weeks after injuring his knee in a collision with a Veracruz team-mate while on club duty in Mexico on February 19.
But the 28-year-old is yet to see any minutes since that match, heightening fears over his availability.
However, in a recent interview with ESPN, Gallese declared himself 100 per cent fit for Veracruz’s final game of the Liga MX season against Cruz Azul next Monday morning (AEST) and spoke of his desire to make an impact in Russia.
“We are going to the World Cup to compete, not for a vacation. We are going to compete as equals and we will try to give our best,” Gallese said.
To help build his fitness, Peru coach Ricardo Gareca is reportedly planning to play the shot-stopper in all three pre-tournament against Scotland, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.
France international and Monaco defender Djibril Sidibe is a doubt for the FIFA World Cup after being diagnosed with a knee injury.
Sidibe suffered the injury in a recent Ligue 1 clash, with his coach Leonardo Jardim confirming the severity of the issue.
"In the most serious cases it is seven weeks; in the less serious, four weeks," Jardim told reporters.
"You have to check that with the specialists. The medical service will make the best decision, I have full confidence. Will we be seeing him again this season? I think not."
Sidibe’s plight has opened the door for someone like ex-Arsenal fullback Mathieu Debuchy, who has joined the likes of Marseille trio Dimitri Payet, Nabil Fékir and Florian Thauvin as players looking to secure a spot in the France squad.
The Danes are banking on getting through the group in Russia, with a Denmark-based Aussie revealing in a recent interview that failure to qualify for the knockout stage would be seen “as a disaster for the nation”.
“When the draw was first made the Danish players and public were very happy with their group,” Mustafa Amini said on The World Game website.
“They pretty much said if they don’t get past the group it’s a disaster for the country. So it’s fair to say they’re feeling quite confident.
“They’ve got the likes of Christian Eriksen, whose one of the best players in the world, and a lot of players based in good European leagues.
"But us Aussies have a never-say-die attitude and in a football game anything can happen. When it comes down to it, I don’t think they will underestimate us.”
The Caltex Socceroos take on Denmark in their second group clash on June 21.
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