Aston Villa

Aston Villa slideshow

Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Gareth Southgate has impressively changed our perception of him - now England need to do the same
Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Gareth Southgate has impressively changed our perception of him - now England need to do the same
Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Gareth Southgate has impressively changed our perception of him - now England need to do the same
Gareth Southgate’s last World Cup appearance ended with one of the most memorable quotes about an England manager. It came in 2002, after defeat to Brazil, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was unable to inspire a comeback. “We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” Southgate was quoted saying, with what he thought a private remark capturing the mood of a nation. As he follows Eriksson’s path leading England on the biggest stage, I can’t help wonder what kind of leader Southgate is? I doubt he will be delivering Churchillian speeches in the dressing room, but I also hope - and expect - he will be more charismatic than the colourless Duncan-Smith. Six years ago I spent time working alongside Southgate at a major tournament. I was a TV pundit with Southgate, Roberto Martinez and Roy Keane. Everyone was asking Keane and I about our management aspirations, evidently unaware of the ambition burning in Southgate to prove himself after his first stint as a head coach at Middlesbrough. He struck me as a person pretty much as a saw him as a player - polite, studious, good company and an all-round likeable bloke. He tended to sit on the fence with his opinions, so much so I can’t recall him saying anything headline-grabbing or contentious when we sat on the sofa in Poland during Euro 2012. If Keane or I were going off on one, he courteously agreed or kept his thoughts to himself. Gareth Southgate gives the thumbs up after England training Credit: pa Did I think he would be managing England two World Cups later? No. He did not strike me as elite management material. I had similar misgivings when he was a player. As a centre-back playing in the same era, I admired Southgate. He won 57 England caps and was a high-quality, reliable and consistent defender. As he was so talented, I thought there must have something missing from his character preventing top-four clubs making a serious bid. With respect to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, they were never going to play in the Champions League. What was he lacking? My suspicion was that the top managers felt Southgate too ‘nice’. That has been the overriding view of him throughout his career. For better or worse, we do not equate being a ‘nice’ person with being a winner. Those who succeed tend to possess an edge, even a touch of nastiness when it matters, to get where they and their clubs need to be. All the best managers have a snarl in them. Southgate’s brief spell in club management at Middlesbrough did not end well, and although he impressed with England’s Under 21s, few make the step up to the senior team. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players Given these preconceptions, his appointment at the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign did not fill the country with confidence, especially as it was due to the circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s sacking. It felt like England had nowhere to turn. But everything Southgate has said and done over the two years leading England to Russia has been impressive. There are subtle differences in management style which we may consider giant steps over the next month, and what really bodes well is he has shown a steel which his ‘nice guy’ public demeanour disguises. We can dismiss any whispers prior to his appointment that he is little more than a Football Association ‘yes man’. Our presumption Southgate is not tough enough for the job may be wrong. Southgate’s judgement was sharp when he first rejected the England post on an interim basis when Roy Hodgson was sacked, unwilling to hold the fort while the FA searched for someone else. It was the first sign he was prepared to make a choice that must have hurt at the time, but proved astute in ensuring he later got the role permanently. He has made big decisions over the last 12 months. Easing out England captain Wayne Rooney was skilful, as was dropping Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere on the eve of the competition. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Changing the system to three at the back after qualification is brave, as is the use of Kyle Walker in that back three for the good of the team – whether Walker likes it or not. Too often, England managers have made calls which, in the short-term, avoid controversy but hinder long-term progress – especially taking injured players and keeping faith in or pandering to big names who have lacked form and fitness for months. It feels like Southgate made a list of all the errors identified going into previous tournaments and did the opposite. That has taken courage because he will have made some enemies along the way - there will be those with their own agenda waiting to pounce if they feel slighted. There are other examples of Southgate expertly defusing the hand grenades every England manager gets chucked at him. I loved how he stood up to foreign secretary Boris Johnson when it was hinted England may have to boycott the World Cup amid rising tensions between the British and Russian governments. Most recently we saw the controversy of Raheem Sterling’s tattoo approached head-on by the manager, followed by his criticism of the player for his late arrival at training. Raheem Sterling tries to tag Trent Alexander-Arnold in training Credit: getty images Such details will not matter if we fail again, but it is refreshing to see an England manager in such control and preparing for tough questions rather than getting frustrated or emotional by the tone of interviews. This tells us much about Southgate’s true character. He is a modern coach who says he does not like plenty about the modern game, yet he is a realist and is proving adept at dealing with it. It is also refreshing to have an England manager without any baggage. Whether it was Allardyce and the off-field controversy leading to his swift exit; Hodgson and concerns about his failures at big clubs amid fears he was too ‘old school’; Fabio Capello’s inability to engage with the public and his squad; or Eriksson’s playboy lifestyle – there always seemed to be a stick with which the England coach could be easily beaten. Southgate goes into the competition with a clean slate. Indeed, the last time an England manager went into a competition with such a high approval rating was probably Glenn Hoddle in 1998, or even Terry Venables in 1996. It won’t matter if England lose early, but it’s still a healthier situation than before recent major tournaments. England has one of the least experienced teams in the World Cup We will know more over the next three fixtures if Southgate’s approach has made any difference to performances. The true examination starts against Tunisia on Monday, a fixture I believe tougher than many anticipate given the first opponents recently drew with Turkey and Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain. There is plenty of goodwill going into the competition but we have been in the midst of a phoney war until now. We will see how long the mutual respect between the manager, players and media lasts if England under-perform. If England are a goal down at half-time, Southgate’s players will be judging what kind of leader he is just as he did Eriksson. He has already shifted public perceptions of his management. Now he needs his England team to change how we feel about them. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The former Aston Villa and Zaragoza hitman is looking forward to seeing his compatriots in action, while backing rookie coach Krstajic to succeed
Savo Milosevic anticipates tough World Cup for 'talented' Serbia
The former Aston Villa and Zaragoza hitman is looking forward to seeing his compatriots in action, while backing rookie coach Krstajic to succeed
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
France squeeze past Australia after VAR makes first critical World Cup intervention
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.
In World Cups past this was a game France would have lost. But in the era of video assistant referees and goal-line technology, the latest innovations twice came to their assistance – first awarding them a penalty, then spotting their winning shot had crossed the line. It added up to a very 21st-century victory. And never mind the man of the match, in Paris already the process must be under way to award the video ref the Legion d’Honneur. “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour, obviously,” said the France manager, Didier Deschamps. “The referee did not see that there was a foul, he was able to correct his mistake. That is a good thing.” A good thing maybe. But how France needed the technological assistance. What heavy weather their much-vaunted team made of victory. Up against an Australian side superbly organised by Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, how they struggled to find anything close to the sort of control their talent should be capable of seizing. “There were a lot of moments the players of France didn’t know what to do with themselves against us and that is a compliment nobody expected,” said the Australia coach, Bert van Marwijk. And he wasn’t wrong. Last seen in the World Cup as manager of a Holland side that besmirched the 2010 final with their chest-high tackling, Van Marwijk may have ushered out the era of Total Football but he knows how to organise a defence. How he must have thrilled to see the gold Australia shirts forming two solid lines in front of their goalkeeper, Brighton’s Matt Ryan. Here they were, with two Premier League players and the rest from football’s less visited outposts (Aston Villa and Celtic notwithstanding) matching some of the most celebrated players in world football. Snapping into tackles, spoiling, stretching every fibre to make last-ditch interceptions, their magnificently destructive effort was epitomised by Trent Sainsbury of Grasshoppers, who twice managed to get a leg in the way to divert the ball as Antoine Griezmann appeared to be heading goalwards. It was a hugely frustrating opening for France. Not least for their celebrated youthful forward line. It may be a bit early to make judgment as it is only the second time they have started a game together, but could it be that the combination of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will turn out to be the Gallic equivalent of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a natural combination on paper that falls apart on the grass? Here they were in Kazan, collectively worth more than the gross national product of a former Soviet Republic, giving new definition to the term underwhelming. The main problem was, like Gerrard and Lampard, they seemed to spend their time together converging on the same space. Paul Pogba's deflected effort squirms over the line Credit: REUTERS Deschamps had admitted in his pre-match press conference that there was a “traffic jam” issue with his front line. But his tactics did little to free up space for them. It took until the 58th minute before we saw hint of their potential. A superb ball from Paul Pogba unleashed Griezmann. Initially referee Andres Cunha seemed to believe that Joshua Risdon’s sliding tackle had plucked the ball off the Frenchman’s toes. But a word in his ear advised him to check the replay on the pitchside screens. Scrutiny of the slow motion suggested that Risdon caught Pogba’s trailing leg. “The ref needs to be 100 per cent honest. He was standing close to the penalty and said play on,” complained Van Marwijk. But it was hard to argue the decision was not the right one, however inadvertently Risdon had tripped the forward. Griezmann stepped up perfectly to execute the spot-kick, a moment which, after his recent foray into film making, he will doubtless be marking with the imminent release of a feature length documentary. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article France’s lead lasted no more than four minutes, however. Mooy floated in a free-kick which, for some reason Samuel Umtiti decided to punch away. There was no need for VAR this time. And Mile Jedinak calmly gave Australia deserved parity. By now, Deschamps had tired of his front three. He took off Griezmann and Dembele and sent on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir. It was Giroud who made the most obvious difference. Pogba, who was growing in authority, strode forward and played the ball into Mbappe, who returned the pass to the advancing midfielder. Pogba then played another sharp one-two with Giroud. And, as he shaped to shoot, the ball cannoned off the foot of Aziz Behich, bounced off the bar and down before ending up in Ryan’s arms. Once again technology intervened. The watch on Senor Cunha’s wrist buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line. It may have been a scrappy finish, it may have been improper reward for Australia’s wholehearted endeavour, but the build-up gave telling indication of France’s attacking potential. Deschamps must be hoping that from now on they can rely on that without recourse to the video suite. 1:26PM Next up in Group C Is Peru vs Denmark at 5pm this afternoon. France will be in action next on Thursday afternoon against Peru. You'd expect Deschamps and his team will come in for a lot of criticism over the coming days for this afternoon's insipid display. Credit: REUTERS 1:08PM Stat pack Thanks to our pals at Opta, here are some stats to get your teeth from the game. This is the fourth successive World Cup that France have started the tournament unbeaten (W2 D2 L0), last losing in 2002 against Senegal. Australia have lost four of their five opening World Cup games, with their only win coming against Japan in 2006. France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May. All four of Australian Mat Ryan’s saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced. The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match. Credit: AFP France v Australia became the first World Cup match since Senegal v Uruguay in World Cup 2002 to see both teams score a penalty in normal time. France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Antoine Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists. The average age of France’s starting XI (24y 196d) was their youngest in a World Cup match since July 1930 vs Chile. At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships). Daniel Arzani has become the youngest player to ever make a World Cup appearance for Australia (19y 163d). 1:01PM Technology wins the day First VAR, and then goal-line technology had a hand in France's goals. The first one was debatable but in my mind probably the right call; the second was a reminder of how invaluable goal-line technology is. Imagine if France hadn't won because the linesman hadn't spotted the ball crossed the line? Credit: Getty Images 12:52PM Full-time - France 2 Australia 1 That's it! France have beaten Australia 2-1. 12:51PM 90+5 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich hauls in a long throw for Australia, but Pavard hacks the ball away. 12:49PM 90+3 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia in possession but no penetration as yet. 12:47PM 90 min France 2 Australia 1 Five minutes of time to be added on. 12:46PM 89 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia look pretty spent here. Can they dig into their reserves and lift themselves for one last effort? They get a big let-off after Mbappe, Fekir and Pogba make a mess of a France counter. 12:44PM 87 min France 2 Australia 1 Behich goes into the book for bringing down Fekir after getting the wrong side of the Lyon forward. 12:43PM 86 min France 2 Australia 1 Goal-line technology absolutely invaluable for Pogba's goal, as the ball was only over the line by millimetres. Lawro of course complained about it. Genuinely. 12:41PM 83 min France 2 Australia 1 Australia change - Kruse off for Arzani. What do the Aussies have left? 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 (Pogba 80') What a crazy goal. Pogba bursts into the box, and is tackled by the luckless Behich, who inadvertently deflects the ball into his own goal. The ball actually bounces off the bar and into Ryan's hands, but the goal-line technology says goal. The stadium announcer says it's Pogba's goal but that will surely ultimately be given as an OG? France 2 - 1 Australia (Paul Pogba, 80 min) 12:34PM 78 min France 1 Australia 1 France make their final change - Mutuidi on for Tolisso. 12:33PM 76 min France 1 Australia 1 Yellow card for Tolisso after cynically chopping down Juric, who was breaking clear for Australia. 12:29PM 73 min France 1 Australia 1 A France corner is cleared to Pavan, who attempts a David Platt-style scissor kick from 25 yards out. Fair to say it doesn't go quite as planned and skews well wide. France vs Australia shots on goal 12:28PM 72 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia respond with a change of their own. Irvine of Hull replaces Rogic of Celtic to freshen up the Australia midfield. This game feels absolutely made for a Giroud winner by the way. 12:26PM 70 min France 1 Australia 1 Deschamps has finally had enough and makes a double change. Surprisingly it's Griezmann coming off for Giroud. Fekir also comes on, replacing Dembele. 12:23PM 67 min France 1 Australia 1 France look rattled by giving away such a monumentally stupid equaliser. Australia by contrast are full of confidence, zipping passes about. They couldn't pull off an almighty upset could they? 12:20PM 64 min France 1 Australia 1 Australia make a change - Juric on for Nabbout. Like for like change up front. 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 (Jedinak pen, 62) Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! Credit: Getty Images 12:17PM 61 min France 1 Australia 0 It's all happening here! Mooy floats in another dangerous free-kick, which Umtiti punches away with his hand. What was he thinking? It's a penalty for Australia! Credit: AP 12:16PM 59 min France 1 Australia 0 France nearly double their lead straight away, but Griezmann pulls his shot just wide. And you're not going to believe this, but Mark Lawrenson in commentary doesn't agree with the decision and doesn't like VAR! 12:15PM 58 min GOAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 0 (Griezmann pen, 58) Griezmann takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. Credit: Getty Images 12:13PM 56 min France 0 Australia 0 The ref gives the penalty after consulting the VAR! That looked very borderline but the correct decision has probably just about been reached. Risdon was last man but it's only a booking as the tackle was not a deliberate foul. The referee Andres Cunha consults the VAR 12:12PM 55 min France 0 Australia 0 Big moment here as Griezmann goes down in the box under Risdon's tackle. France want a penalty but the referee is unsure. He goes to the VAR! 12:10PM 54 min France 0 Australia 0 Oooh, Australia look dangerous but the ball won't drop for Nabbout in the box after some intricate passing down the right. Umtiti eventually hacks clear. Credit: AP 12:07PM 51 min France 0 Australia 0 After the joy of last night, this feels like the resulting hangover. France still really flat, and you feel Deschamps needs to make a change to re-energise the team. 12:05PM 48 min France 0 Australia 0 France playing with a bit more urgency at the start of the half, but still they can't carve open this resolute Aussie defence. 12:02PM 46 min France 0 Australia 0 We're back under way in Kazan. No changes for either side. 11:57AM Work for France to do Not a great half, truth be told. France started brightly but have since faded badly and looked completely bereft of ideas. Australia by contrast look like they know exactly what they're doing, and grew more and more comfortable as the match wore on. You'd expect Deschamps would turn to his bench and bring on one or more of Giroud, Lemar or Fekir if things don't change in the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:47AM Half-time: France 0 Australia 0 The half-time whistle blows. Australia manager Bert van Marwijk will be delighted with that; Didier Deschamps not so much. Credit: REUTERS 11:45AM 45+1 min France 0 Australia 0 Now it's Australia's turn to come forward, and Behich has a go from range but it flies high and wide. Just the one minute of time to be added on. 11:44AM 45 min France 0 Australia 0 Trent Sainsbury, who's also been very solid, does brilliantly to nip in and get a toe to the ball to deny Griezmann just inside the Australia penalty area. 11:43AM 43 min France 0 Australia 0 Milligan again does brilliantly to dispossess Dembele. Mooy then mops up and gets the ball clear. And that pretty much sums up the first half. 11:39AM 40 min France 0 Australia 0 Hernandez is down after a meaty challenge from Nabbout near the French corner flag. The Aussies not afraid to stick the boot in this half. 11:37AM 37 min France 0 Australia 0 Mooy gives the ball away to Mbappe but instantly wins it back with a perfectly-timed tackle. Mooy and Jedinak are forming a very effective shield in front of the Aussie back four. Credit: AFP 11:34AM 34 min France 0 Australia 0 France move through the gears and find the left-back Hernandez in space just inside the box. Hernandez whips a cross-shot in low, but Milligan gets another excellent block in. He and his fellow Aussie defenders have been immense so far. 11:31AM 31 min France 0 Australia 0 France very nearly get in behind, but Griezmann can't quite get Pogba's pass under control in the box. Australia survive. 11:28AM 29 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia growing in belief, and they win another free-kick in a dangerous area when Leckie is scythed down by Pogba. Mooy curls this one into the box from out wide on the right, but Lloris comes out and claims. In other news, I don't think I can take another hour of Mark Lawrenson. 11:25AM 26 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are breaking the game up cleverly with lots of niggly fouls. This time it's the Celtic forward Rogic who pulls down Pavard. Credit: AP 11:22AM 23 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia have taken the sting out of this in the last few minutes. Dembele then gets poleaxed by Sainsbury, but the referee inexplicably says no free-kick. 11:18AM 18 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia so nearly take the lead! Mooy's free-kick from the right is a horror to defend, and Tolisso very nearly turns it into his net. Lloris spares his blushes with an excellent save down to his left. Set pieces are where Australia are going to hurt France today. 11:15AM 15 min France 0 Australia 0 Another clipped ball over the top just evades Mbappe, whose movement is causing Australia real problems. Mbappe will surely make Australia pay sooner or later. 11:14AM 14 min France 0 Australia 0 Leckie is the first player into the book for a late tackle on Hernandez. Griezmann floats an inviting one in from the left-hand side about 40 yards out, which Mooy heads away well. Credit: AFP 11:12AM 12 min France 0 Australia 0 Behich bursts forward for Australia and wins a free-kick from Pavard. Mooy whips it in from the left-hand side but Leckie's header flies way over the bar. Still it's a first effort of the game from Australia. 11:10AM 11 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe can't quite latch onto Griezmann's clever flick as France build yet another attack. The Australian fans ironically cheer the team's every pass as they finally get a bit of possession. 11:08AM 9 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe's floated free-kick from the left-hand side drifts harmlessly into Ryan's arms. No respite for the Aussies at the moment. Mark Lawrenson is on co-comms incidentally. "It’s like being forced to watch the game with your really annoying out of touch uncle" says my brother. 11:06AM 7 min France 0 Australia 0 A delightful France move that starts with a gorgeous Mbappe flick ends with a Griezmann sighter from about 20 yards that again is straight down Ryan's throat. France well on top here, bright start. France vs Australia shots on goal 11:04AM 5 min France 0 Australia 0 Pogba takes the free-kick from about 25 yards but it's straight at Ryan, who makes a very comfortable save. 11:04AM 4 min France 0 Australia 0 Australia are sat very deep with everyone but Nabbout behind the ball. Mbappe is playing in the centre forward role for France, and wins a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing a foul from Milligan with a clever turn. 11:02AM 2 min France 0 Australia 0 Mbappe gets in behind the Australia defence and squeezes in a shot from a tight angle that Ryan beats away. 11:00AM Kick-off We're under way in Kazan. A reminder of the teams for this one: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. Tim Cahill is on the bench for Australia. 10:57AM National anthem France belt out La Marseillaise - is there a fine anthem anywhere in the world? Not for me, Clive. Certainly not Advance Australia Fair, which is good, but nowhere near as epic. (And far less bloodthirsty). 10:51AM Attack vs defence We're expecting Australia - managed by Bert van Marwijk of Holland trying to kick Spain off the park in 2010 fame - to sit in deep and try and catch France on the break. An early France goal would force them out and open up the game nicely. Credit: AP 10:39AM France depth Amazing to think of the players France have on their bench - including Blaise Matuidi, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. That said the likes of Dimitri Payet, Alexandre Lacazette and Aymeric Laporte couldn't even make the squad. If Didier Deschamps can harness the monumental talent in his squad, they really should be making the semis at least. 10:26AM How to pick a World Cup winner If you haven't already, give this a read - an absolutely comprehensive analysis of how to pick a World Cup winner by sports data journalist Alistair Tweedale. So, will it be France? How to predict a World Cup winner 10:13AM That front three France's strikeforce of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele is just absurd. The three behind them of Kante, Pogba and Bayern Munich youngster Tolisso is also pretty formidable. For Australia there are a few familiar faces in the starting XI, including the Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy and Aston Villa enforcer Mile Jedinak. Excited for this, should be very good. Jim White's view from the press box Credit: Jim White 10:01AM Team news The starting XIs are in, and they are as follows: The teams are in for #FRAAUS �� pic.twitter.com/fnrkT1Iar9— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 Or in written form: France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele. Australia: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Mooy, Jedinak; Rogic, Leckie, Kruse; Nabbout. 9:36AM Our man in Kazan has this dispatch Jim White writes: Kazan is full of Australia fans desperately looking for somewhere to buy sandpaper. Credit: Jim White 9:22AM The greatest show on earth continues Morning all, Welcome to our coverage of what looks like being a thoroughly enjoyable Group C match between France and Australia. If the match goes to expectations, it'll be a comfortable victory for the French, who on paper at least have one of the strongest squads in the tournament. The impressive Raphael Varane marshalls a solid-looking defence, which is protected by N'Golo Kante, who in turn allows Paul Pogba to bomb forward and join the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe up front. Any squad that has no room for Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte (to name just three of a host of stars) has to be taken pretty seriously. Australia on the other hand come into the tournament on the back of a pretty turbulent period thatonly saw manager Bert van Marwijk appointed in January after Ange Postecoglu quit at the end of last year. The Socceroos were also not especially impressive in qualifying, and needed extra time to scrape past Syria in the play-off stage. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup Credit: Getty Images Their squad is not at the level of years gone by when the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were to the fore, though there is a familiar face in the squad in the shape of the evergreen Tim Cahill. Now 38, Cahill is the only 'unattached' player at the World Cup having been being released by Championship side Millwall in May. Amazingly, after netting at the last three World Cups, he could become just the fifth player ever to score at four separate finals if he nets in Russia over the next few weeks. The other four if you're interested are the German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler, a certain Brazilian named Pele, and after last night's heroics Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyway, back to today's match. France will be keen to build some early momentum ahead of stiffer-looking tests against Denmark and Peru. Personally I would be very surprised if they didn't get the three points today - I'm going for a 3-0 France win.