It was a nice , sunny day in Kazan; perfect for an afternoon game and what a game would that be ! World Cup was just minutes away for France’s and Australia‘s first game in the competition and hopes for both teams were high, for these two countries have met just once, when Australia beat France back at the 2001 Confederations Cup. Since then, they only played friendlies(3), two wins and a draw for the French.
If you don’t remember your geography lessons, Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, a city with a population in the 1.2 million range, many of them students (the city hosts several universities). France and Australia will play their first World Cup game in a brand new stadium, the Kazan Arena(45.000).
France’s Didier Deschamps, put his faith in youth and selected the youngest French World Cup side since 1930. Australia’s Bert van Marwijk asked his players to forget their country’s previous slow World Cup starts, for they have worked very hard for this opportunity. Both managers fielded the two youngest players at Russia 2018, PSG’s Kylian MBappé and Melbourne’s City Daniel Arzani, both of them still teenagers(19).
This was a game or should we say a culture clash between the French stars and a band of resilient Australians with a splash of out of the pitch technology … a game that reignited the war of old timers, fierce opponents of any new ways, like some full-kit video referees assisting the on the pitch one, with tv replays and the supporters of modern technology to use for some delicate situations. One might say that the decisions were quick and decisive, but correct ? Five out of ten “specialists” media and pundits alike, have a different opinion about the french penalty…using VAR (LOL) to convince their opponents! Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t ?
France’s bright start gave a taste of that team’s capacity with the front trio of Kyllian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé; three shots in the opening five minutes! This euphoria didn’t last long though, for the Australians had their own plans: a solid structure and enough motivation to execute their manager’s plan. They almost scored (17th) after Aaron Mooy’s free-kick ; the ball ricocheted Corentin Tolisso’s foot and it should be into the net but Hugo Lloris’ quick reaction.
Goaless at half time, both teams went back to their dressing room but not in the same mood; the french players looked hassled while their opponents were still very much in the game.
The second half began and drama wasn’t far away ; Griezmann found some space and sprinted towards the Australian net…Joshua Risdon dived in and tripped him. Referree Cunha, let the game go on, but he was asked to consult the pitchside replays and then he returned to the pitch making first the television sign, then the penalty spot. Griezmann put the ball in and so: France 1 Australia nil .
Not for long…only four minutes later, Australia got a penalty too! Only Samuel Umtiti knows why he jumped at Mooy’s cross, arms raised, eyes closed? The ball touched his fist, and no need for VAR this time. Mile Jedinak, send Lloris the wrong way; FRA 1 AUS 1 !
France took the lead for the second time, after some beautiful build up and quick passing; Mbappé, Olivier Giroud and Pogba made some exchanging, precise moves and Pogba’s shot nicked off Aziz Behich, touched the crossbar and went in… just in! Goal technology showed the the ball was past the line: France 2-Australia 1
Nevertheless, the goal at first was given to Pogba but replay showed that it was an own goal(Behich). One might wonder what would be this game result without VAR and goal line technology ? Could be interesting to listen about that from the old timers…
This game showed that France need to change several things, but most of all their Bleus involvement. Australia gave all they could and maybe, just maybe this game could be the beginning of a new era despite Van Marwijk’s disappointment.
Australia’s next game will be against another european team, Danemark, while France will play South America’s Peru.
Here’s the players ratings :
Lloris 6,5/10 Hernandez 7,5/10 MOTM Umtiti 4/10 Varane 7/10 Pavard 6/10 Pogba 6/10 Kanté 7/10 Tolisso 3,5/10 Dembélé 4/10 Griezmann 5,5/10 MBappé 6/10
Ryan 5/10 Risdon 4/10 Sainsbury 7/10 Milligan 6/10 Behich 5/10 Jedinac 6,5/10 Mooy 7/10 Leckie 4,5/10 Kruse 5/10 Rogic 6/10 Nabbout 4,5/10
France vs Australia 2-1 HIGHLIGHTS