Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark – Martin Keown's World Cup guide
By Martin Keown for the Daily Mail
Published: 11:44 EDT, 13 June 2018 | Updated: 11:44 EDT, 13 June 2018
The four-year countdown is over, the World Cup finally kicks off on Thursday and it promises to be yet another scintillating tournament.
Group C contains France, Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Sportsmail's MARTIN KEOWN gives his rundown of each team in Group C, including the manager, the man to watch out for, their strength and their biggest weakness.
FIFA ranking: 7 Odds: 13-2
World Cup best: Winners (1998)
THE BOSS: Didier Deschamps
It has been a case of so near yet so far for the 1998 World Cup winner since taking over as France manager in 2012. Deschamps reached the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago before his side were edged out by Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. He has picked a young, exciting squad — leaving out some established stars — to go one better this time.
THE STAR: Antoine Griezmann
This forward’s movement is so slippery he is like an eel. When he is through on goal, he does not miss. Griezmann has had an impressive season with Atletico Madrid, scoring 29 goals in 49 games on their way to Europa League glory, and it’s little surprise that rumours are swirling of a move to Barcelona.
THE PROSPECT: Kylian Mbappe
He may be just 19 but Mbappe is one of the world’s most feared forwards. He is rapid! His combination of pace, dribbling and finishing makes the £166m PSG star a nightmare for defenders.
There is an abundance of pace — and strength in depth. Deschamps has left out Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte while Dimitri Payet is also missing through injury.
After a season of struggle with Manchester United, Paul Pogba performed poorly in France’s first warm-up match. Deschamps will hope Pogba will not have a negative impact on the squad.
Antoine Griezmann has had an impressive season with Atletico , scoring 29 goals in 49 games
FIFA ranking: 36 Odds: 750-1
World Cup best: Last 16 (2006)
THE BOSS: Bert van Marwijk
Led his native Holland to the 2010 final and was in charge of Saudi Arabia until he quit in September after qualifying. Dutch legend Mark van Bommel is his son in law.
THE STAR: Aaron Mooy
Pulled the strings in midfield for Huddersfield as they escaped relegation. How Mooy performs will be crucial if Australia are to reach knockouts.
THE PROSPECT: Daniel Arzani
The 19-year-old Melbourne City winger was named this season’s best young player in Australia’s A-League.
The team is peppered with Premier League experience. Mat Ryan has impressed in goal for Brighton and captain Mile Jedinak — formerly of Crystal Palace and now with Aston Villa — is a fierce competitor in midfield.
With few proven goalscorers, they will be relying on 38-year-old Tim Cahill to roll back the years off the bench.
FIFA ranking: 12= Odds: 125-1
World Cup best: Quarter-finals (1998)
THE BOSS: Age Hareide
A Scandinavian football expert, the 64-year-old is the only manager to win the league title in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Manchester City and Norwich fans may remember him from his brief stints as a defender in the early Eighties.
THE STAR: Christian Eriksen
Denmark’s talisman, who fired his nation to Russia with a sensational hat-trick against the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. He has taken his game to another level with 14 goals in his most prolific season yet for Spurs.
THE PROSPECT: Pione Sisto
The Ugandan-born winger, 23, was hailed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects when he scored for Midtjylland in their shock 2-1 win over Manchester United in 2016. He has since earned a move to Celta Vigo, notching nine assists in La Liga this season.
They are capable of huge performances when it matters. Before their 5-1 drubbing of the Irish, they turned over qualifying-group winners Poland 4-0.
They are hugely reliant on Eriksen and Werder Bremen midfielder Thomas Delaney for goals. The pair scored 12 of Denmark’s 20 in their group, with the side failing to pick up a point when both men failed to find the net.
Christian Eriksen has taken his game to another level with 14 goals this season for Spurs
FIFA ranking: 11 Odds: 200-1
Word Cup best: Quarter-final (1970)
THE BOSS: Ricardo Gareca
Nicknamed ‘Tiger’, the Argentinian’s side pounced as Chile and Paraguay floundered in qualifying.
THE STAR: Jefferson Farfan
Lokomotiv Moscow forward who scored Peru’s opener in their 2-0 play-off win over New Zealand.
THE PROSPECT: Edison Flores
The winger, who plays for Aalborg in Denmark, was Peru’s joint-top scorer in qualifying with five goals.
Unbeaten in 15 games since 2016, they will have captain Paolo Guerrero available after his drug ban was temporarily lifted.
A lack of tournament experience and vulnerability at set-pieces.
Jefferson Farfan scored Peru’s opener in their 2-0 play-off win over New Zealand