MX23RW : Saturday, May 25 07:51:03| >> :600:29168345:29168345:
Jun 21, 2018 at 4pm UK at ​Stadion Central'nyj (Ekaterinburg)
Attendance: 32,789
Mbappe (34')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: France vs. Peru - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted XIs and a full match preview of the World Cup Group C clash between France and Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena.

France could all but seal their place in the last 16 of the World Cup with a game to spare when they take on Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena on Thursday afternoon.

Victory over Australia in their opening match has left Les Bleus top of Group C, whereas Peru prop up the rest following their narrow defeat to Denmark.


Antoine Griezmann scores from the spot during the World Cup group game between France and Australia on June 16, 2018© Reuters

The nature of France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan was unconvincing, but in hindsight it has proven to be a very good result.

While many fellow favourites slipped up in the opening round of fixtures - Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Portugal all dropped points - France sit top of Group C and could find themselves just one more win away from the last 16.

A dubious penalty and an unfortunate own goal saw France stumble past opposition they were expected to beat fairly comfortably, but in a tournament of shock results so far, the value of victory cannot be overstated.

Didier Deschamps's side will have one eye on events earlier in the day when Denmark take on Australia in Samara, as victory for the Danes in that game would mean that France will guarantee their place in the knockout rounds by beating Peru.

Qualification from the group - and doing so as winners - remains in France's own hands, though, and they will hope that the opening-game nerves are now a thing of the past and that their supremely-talented squad can begin to play with the freedom that their ability demands.

Many have tipped France to go all the way and emulate the heroes of 20 years ago - when Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and co lifted the trophy on home soil - but Deschamps, the captain of that class of 1998, will be under no illusions that significant improvement is needed.

Football - and in particular World Cup football - is a results business, though, and in that sense France will go into their second group game in fine fettle; Les Bleus have won four of their last five games and have only lost one of their last 13 stretching back more than a year.

It is worth noting that that defeat came against South American opposition - a 3-2 reverse against Colombia in March - and Deschamps will likely be expecting an even greater test from Peru than they faced against Australia.

However, a squad boasting the talents of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante will always be capable of winning any game, and another victory - whether it is convincing or not - could ensure that the first job of their World Cup is secure with a game to spare.

France also tend to fare well against South American opposition at the World Cup, remaining unbeaten in their last seven such matches and keeping clean sheets in the last six of those.

Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWDW


Christian Cueva misses a penalty past Kasper Schmeichel during the World Cup group game between Peru and Denmark on June 16, 2018© Reuters

Whereas France can consider themselves slightly fortunate to have beaten Australia, Peru's luck fell the other way during their 1-0 defeat to Denmark.

Seventeen shots rained in on the Danish goal in Saransk, but still Peru failed to trouble the scorers and even missed a penalty, with Christian Cueva blazing his effort over the crossbar.

The unforgiving nature of the World Cup means that such a miss has already left the South Americans on the brink of a group-stage exit, and they will need to pull off something of a shock against France if they are to give themselves a lifeline going into the final day.

What Peru require from this game will be dictated by events in the opening match of the day between Denmark and Australia, but even a point against the French would leave them with an uphill battle when they take on Australia in their final group game on Thursday.

A first World Cup victory since 1978 could be needed, then, with Peru having failed to win any of their last seven outings on the biggest stage, losing five of those and drawing two.

That run includes five World Cup matches against European opposition without a win too, with their last such triumph also coming in 1978 when they overcame Scotland. Indeed, it is 40 years since any South American team beat France at a World Cup, so history is against the Peruvians ahead of this match.

Captain and record goalscorer Paolo Guerrero is likely to be key to ending that run, having only featured as a substitute against Denmark despite being given the green light by FIFA to play after a drugs ban was put on hold.

Guerrero's expected return should coincide with an improvement on the goal front too; Peru scored 10 times in their opening four games of 2018, winning all four, but have subsequently failed to find the back of the net in their last two.

Another wasteful performance could well see Ricardo Gareca's side's return to the world stage after a 36-year absence come to a premature end.

Recent form: L
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDL

Team News

Paolo Guerrero in action for Peru on June 3, 2018© Reuters

Peru are expected to welcome Guerrero back into their starting lineup after he was handed a 28-minute cameo against Denmark.

The 34-year-old is Peru's leading goalscorer of all time, and his inclusion will see Jefferson Farfan - just one goal away from moving joint-second on that list - drop into a wider position.

Pedro Aquino could also come into the starting lineup after a brief substitute appearance in the opener, with Renato Tapia and Cueva the most likely to drop out.

The match will be a special occasion for France captain Hugo Lloris, who will become the first goalkeeper to reach 100 caps for Les Bleus when he leads them out.

At the other end it will be all eyes on Griezmann, whose penalty against Australia means that he has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals at major tournaments, scoring seven and assisting two.

Olivier Giroud may be hopeful of a start alongside Griezmann after coming off the bench and playing a part in France's winner first time out, although with Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar also as options, Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches in the final third.

Mbappe will once again be looking to continue his meteoric rise with a goal, and doing so would see him break David Trezeguet's record of France's youngest ever goalscorer at a major tournament.

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappe

Peru possible starting lineup:
Gallese; Advincula, Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco; Aquino, Yotun, Carrillo, Flores, Farfan; Guerrero

Head To Head

These two sides have only ever met once before, with that coming in an April 1982 friendly in Paris.

Peru ran out 1-0 winners on that occasion, with Juan Carlos Oblitas scoring the only goal of the game against a French team captained by Michel Platini.

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We say: France 2-1 Peru

We expect France to improve now that the cobwebs have been blown away in their opening performance and, while Peru should put up a good fight, Les Bleus' superior quality should see them through.

Who will win Thursday's World Cup clash between France and Peru?

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