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 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:38PM 80 min GOOOOAAAAAAAAL France 2 Australia 1 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. 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 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 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.
 12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! 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! 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 takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. 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. 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
12:18PM 62 min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! France 1 Australia 1 Jedinak cooly sends Lloris the wrong way, and we're level in Kazan! 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! 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 takes a short run-up and buries the penalty into the goalkeeper's left-hand corner. Brilliant penalty. 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. 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.
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
 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.
World Cup 2018, France vs Australia: live score and latest updates
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.
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Iceland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Iceland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Presided over a victory over Ukraine 2-0, then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs. NIGERIA The first team from Africa to qualify, and convincingly. They won a group that contained current African champion Cameroon, former champion Zambia, and Algeria. A 4-0 victory over Cameroon emphasised that when they get it right the Super Eagles can be a handful for any side. Argentina found that out in November when Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to win their friendly 4-2 in Russia. Nigeria have qualified for five of the last six World Cups. Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China) - While Nigeria have attacking talent aplenty with Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield. Coach: Gernot Rohr - Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup in Brazil. Our prediction: Argentina and Nigeria to go through John Obi Mikel is a stabilising force for Nigeria Credit: Getty Images Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia BRAZIL The gloom that engulfed Brazil after the 7-1 debacle against Germany in the 2014 World Cup has lifted. Brazil were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and had memorable wins on the way, including a 3-0 success over Argentina in the same Mineirao stadium of the 2014 semi-final humiliation. It took the appointment of Tite in September 2016 to revive Brazil. Under his helm, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. Key player: Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if Brazil win. Coach: Adenor Bacchi - Universally known as Tite, he turned Brazil from flops to favourites. Forget Dunga's muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair. SWITZERLAND Now is the time for Switzerland to be more than the sum of its talented parts. The quarter-finals are a realistic goal. Don't call it a golden generation, but the Swiss have a core of players from the 2009 Under-17 world champion team and a depth of tournament experience. However, those World Cup and European Championship adventures ended, at best, in the round of 16. Switzerland last won a World Cup knockout game in 1954, and that was just in a group play-off as host nation. Critics can pick holes in how the Swiss qualified: Nine straight wins in a weak group, and a play-off against Northern Ireland decided by a dubious penalty call. A well-balanced team has seemed to need a high-class central defender and reliable scorer. In Basel's Manuel Akanji, it might have found that defender. Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese) - Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad, speaking all of Switzerland's three main languages. His absence weighed heavily in the group-deciding loss at Portugal. Coach: Vladimir Petkovic - The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding two-time Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. COSTA RICA The tiny Central American country reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago, losing to the Netherlands on a penalty shootout. This will be Costa Rica's fifth World Cup appearance, impressive for a country with a population just under 5 million. Bryan Ruiz is the main attacking threat, while Celso Borges of is a midfield linchpin. Still, November friendlies were hardly encouraging, with a 5-0 thrashing by Spain and a 1-0 loss to Hungary. Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) - Probably the best-known player in the squad, the goalkeeper's strong showing in Brazil secured a move to Madrid in 2014. Coach: Oscar Ramirez - Former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope resigned after a post-match fight. SERBIA Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. The skillful squad scored the most goals - 20 - in the group, with Aleksandar Mitrovic the leading scorer with six goals, leaving behind Ireland, Wales and Austria. Slavoljub Muslin was removed as coach despite the successful qualifying campaign. Mladen Krstajic took over in a caretaker capacity before being given the job until the end of the World Cup. Key player: Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) - Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers Coach: Mladen Krstajić - Unlike his predecessor has so far shown himself willing to follow orders and give youth a chance. Our prediction: Brazil and Switzerland to go through Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in good shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in all games in 2017. They have already collected a trophy in Russia in the build-up to the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup in July and using the warm-up tournament to test new options like late developer Lars Stindl. World Cup qualifying was completed with 10 wins from 10 and a European-record 43 goals. Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) - Germany's new leader, Kroos keeps the side ticking from midfield, where his intelligence, precision and composition on the ball inspires team-mates going forward. Coach: Joachim Low - Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant during the 2006 World Cup, Low took over after that tournament and has overseen steady progress culminating in the 2014 title. MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short. They have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. Reaching the quarter-finals this time would be seen as a success. The Mexicans have only done that twice - 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts. Mexico impressed four years ago in Brazil, and they were impressive in qualifying this time, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Arch rivals United States missed out this time. Few tears were shed in Mexico over this. Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham) - Likely to line up in the front with Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio - Known for his detailed planning and quick attacking style, but struggles with self-control and was suspended for this summer's Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup. SWEDEN Sweden had just stunned Italy in the play-offs to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2006 when a tweet was posted by the country's best player: "We are Zweden." The shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic hangs over the national team. The Manchester United striker retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship and much of the build-up this time around was whether he might be lured back for one last World Cup. Sweden seem more united and well-structured, but now they will find out just good they are without the force that made them tick for so long. Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) - Has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's inspiration in attack. Coach: Janne Andersson - Took charge following Euro 2016 and has successfully rebuilt the team to be greater than the sum of its parts without Ibrahimovic. SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea. This time looks likelier to be a repeat of 2014's meek group-stage exit than 2002's swashbuckling run to the semi-finals. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow qualifying contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend on a due of English Premier League players - Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung who bring valuable experience of top-level football. Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham) - The top-scoring Asian player in Premier League history. Coach: Shin Tae-yong - When defeats to Qatar and China threw South Korea's qualifying campaign into turmoil, the former Under-23 coach was promoted to steady the ship. Has only ever coached in South Korea and Australia. Our prediction: Germany and Mexico to go through Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM It's time to deliver for a team featuring such exceptional talent. But Belgium is a country that is yet to break into the semi-finals of a tournament. It is widely acknowledged they have been held back by mediocre management. Now it is up to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach, to get the best out of this plethora of stars. If you have Romelu Lukaku up front, Eden Hazard as a creative genius and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a final lock on goal, the ingredients for success are there. There are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is as brittle as he can be brilliant and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Key player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) - Overshadowed Eden Hazard at the 2014 World Cup, he has only grown in stature, especially since his move to City and his more withdrawn position on the pitch. Coach: Roberto Martinez was a surprise pick for Belgium when they ditched Marc Wilmots after a disappointing Euro 2016. The Spaniard easily adapted to life in international management. PANAMA A first qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday. The Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier. Panama has only four million people, but finished ahead of the United States, which has about 320 million. Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario) - The striker has scored 43 goals for Panama. Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez - The Colombian has worked his magic again. He got Colombia into the 1998 World Cup, and then did the same for Ecuador in 2002. Now it is Panama's turn. TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage. With a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, their main goal will be to win a game in Russia. Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail) - The 27-year-old forward played a crucial role in qualifying, scoring a hat-trick in an away win to Guinea. Coach: Nabil Maaloul - A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into Tunisia's World Cup qualifying campaign. ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Having the world's richest and most popular domestic league has had an adverse effect on the England team, whose managers have an increasingly shallow pool of top players to choose from. A young squad will be taken to Russia, so getting out of the group is as much as can realistically be hoped for. Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham) - Emerged as one of the tops strikers in the world this year, scoring freely for his club in the Premier League and Champions League. Has 13 goals in 24 games for England. Coach: Gareth Southgate - Sceptics are starting to come round to Southgate, who took charge in September 2016 despite having little top-level coaching experience but has shown he isn't afraid to make bold decisions. Our prediction - Belgium and England to go through Harry Kane is the man tasked with spearheading England's attack Credit: Getty Images Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, whose fans are likely to travel to Russia in large numbers. It could be the last chance to play on the biggest stage for strikers Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will be 29 and 32 respectively by the finals. Poland are largely unchanged from the team that reached Euro 2016 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Portugal. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence. Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) - Already Poland's record goalscorer, he scored a European-high 16 goals in qualifying. Coach: Adam Nawalka - Turned Poland from a counter-attacking team into one which seeks to dominate possession. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by Fifa to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Senegal took advantage to win the replay, changing the dynamic of the group. Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) - With his blistering pace, Mane has been every bit as effective for Senegal as he has for Liverpool. Coach: Aliou Cisse - Senegal will take a reminder of their dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia next year. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country. Sadio Mane is Senegal's talisman Credit: REUTERS COLOMBIA Reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they have the talent to do it again. This will be Colombia's second straight appearance after sitting out for 16 years. Qualifying was a struggle this time. Colombia waited until the last match to make it to Russia. Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) - A breakthrough talent at the 2014 World Cup, exemplified by a stunning volley against Uruguay, Rodriguez quickly secured a move from Monaco to Real Madrid. After struggling to make an impact in Spain, Rodriguez is at Bayern Munich on loan trying to revive his form ahead of the World Cup. Coach: Jose Pekerman - Gets much of the credit for getting Colombia back into the World Cup. Also led his native Argentina to the quarter-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience. Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Okazaki of Leicester should play key roles. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) - With 92 caps, the midfield star is part of an experienced core of players also including Okazaki, defender Yuto Nagamoto and midfielder Keisuke Honda. Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic - Japan hope the 66-year-old Bosnian can replicate his success with Algeria at the 2014 World Cup, when he took the North African nation into the last-16 for the first time. Our prediction: Poland and Colombia to go through World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 groups: tables, latest standings, games and analysis
Your wait for the 2018 Fifa World Cup is over at last. With each passing day we experience more and more teams getting their campaigns started. But who will each of them face in their groups? Last December's draw in Moscow saw England placed in Group E with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The top two in the group will qualify for the knockout stages. You can find details about each team, the World Cup group they will be in and our prediction on who makes it through right here. World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Our group prediction: Uruguay and Egypt to go through Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Our group prediction: Portugal and Spain to go through Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark FRANCE A young and vibrant side packed with flair promises to be eye-catching. Recently, France twice took the lead away to World Cup winner Germany and caused the home defence all sorts of problems with the movement and speed of their devastating counter-attacks. But France are also prone to lapses in concentration, and this needs to be ironed out if they wish to win the trophy for the second time. Les Bleus lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy in a penalty shootout; lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, and could not handle the pressure of being favourites in the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal. It's time for France to add silverware to the growing hype. Key player: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) - The three-time Champions League-winning centre-back has the difficult task of marshalling a vulnerable defence. Coach: Didier Deschamps - Turned France into a highly competitive team but has yet to deliver a trophy. Reaching the World Cup semi-finals is the minimum target for the 49-year-old Deschamps, a former midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Didier Deschamps has some talented players at his disposal Credit: AP AUSTRALIA Qualified for a fourth consecutive World Cup, but had to take the long route to Russia after failing to secure direct entry in Asia because of a slightly inferior goal difference to Saudi Arabia. The Australians played 22 games in qualifying, including an Asian playoff against Syria and culminating with a play-off win over Honduras. That made them the next-to-last team to clinch a spot at the 2108 edition. The nucleus of the young squad that went to Brazil four years ago has remained, helping the country win a first Asian Cup title in 2015 and develop an attacking style it touts as the Australian way. Ange Postecoglou quit as coach a week after Australia secured their place in Russia. Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - With much of the attention on 37-year-old Tim Cahill, Jedinak has returned from injury to stabilise the midfield and score a hat-trick against Honduras. Coach: Bert van Marwijk - Guided Holland to the final of the 2010 World Cup but had been given only a short-term contract, which runs to the end of this tournament. PERU Chile, Ecuador and even Paraguay were considered favorites for South America's fifth spot in the World Cup. In the end, it went to a Peruvian side that conceded only seven goals in eight matches in 2017. Much of the team's base players are now in Mexican clubs; goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, defender Luis Advincula, midfielder Pedro Aquino and strikers Raul Ruidiaz and Andy Polo. Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo) - The 34-year-old captain scored six goals in qualifying and features after appealing against a Fifa doping ban. Coach: Ricardo Gareca - The Argentine scored a goal in 1985 that eliminated Peru in the South American qualifiers. Since 2015 he has led a much better organised and well-paced Peruvian team to their first World Cup participation since 1982. DENMARK One of the fastest-improving teams in Europe, and a country most will want to avoid coming out of the third-seeded pot. Denmark haven't played a major tournament since the 2012 European Championships but they are unbeaten in 13 games since back-to-back losses in qualifying against Poland and Montenegro in October 2016. Two results stand out: A 4-0 win at home to top-seeded Poland in September and the 5-1 victory at Ireland in the play-offs second leg. In both games, playmaker Christian Eriksen was a standout creating and scoring goals. His form can decide Denmark's fortunes in Russia. Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - Just 18 on his World Cup debut in 2010, Eriksen is in prime form this time round, scoring 11 goals in eight different games during Denmark's unbeaten streak. Coach: Age Hareide - The 64-year-old Norwegian has spent his entire career in Scandinavia, including a five-year spell leading his home country. Our prediction: France and Denmark to go through Christian Eriksen has the ability to scare most opponents Credit: Getty Images Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria ARGENTINA A team featuring Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up barely made it to this World Cup. But other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front. Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career. Coach: Jorge Sampaoli - The 58-year-old Argentine is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark of this World Cup. Lionel Messi could cap a brilliant career at the World Cup Credit: AP ICELAND With just 330,000 people, Iceland are the smallest country ever at the World Cup. The city of Moscow alone outnumbers Iceland's entire population 40 times over, but this is a team of giant-killers. The team's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, knocking out England on a memorable night in Nice, showed the talent and determination in Iceland's team. Qualifying for the World Cup ahead of Croatia and Ukraine proved it wasn't a one-off. Expecting more success in Russia might be optimistic, but with Iceland's passionate fans and their "thunderclap" chant, nothing can be ruled out. Key player: Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) - Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the main attacking threat, but bearded captain Gunnarsson inspires a gritty team. Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson - Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren't most teams. Took sole charge after co-coach Lars Lagerback left last year. CROATIA Croatia had to squeeze through the play-offs for the second straight World Cup despite having at their disposal a generation of players capable of making the difference. Led by playmaker Luka Modric alongside Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Croatia are on paper a tough team to beat. They need the players to replicate their club form on the international stage at a major tournament. Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid) - Croatia look at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. Coach: Zlatko Dalic - Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in