France will once again start as favourites when they take on the less-fancied Peruvians in this second group stage match. Both teams will be wary that this match could make or break their 2018 World Cup campaign, and will be determined to improve on their showings in their respective opening fixtures.
Peru had a forgettable opener against the Danes and will know that they will be heading home early if they can’t scrape a point here. France can secure a place in the second round with a win, although work is required after a scratchy win over Australia.
Despite all of the talent and depth that the French national team possesses, we did not see dominance during their World Cup qualification campaign. While topping a difficult group containing the Netherlands and Sweden can be seen as a decent result, we’re talking about a side who have made it to two of the last five World Cup finals and also the 2016 European Championships finale – is it unreasonable to expect more from them?
Manager Didier Deschamps commented after qualification was secured that “we are not at the same level as Germany, Spain and Brazil – yet”, and it’s hard to argue when you look at how these teams breezed through qualification with emphatic records. Is it acceptable for France to be a ‘work in progress’? Not with the squad they’ve got.
On paper they should crush Peru, who boast a decent squad but not that comes close to the French. Peru’s qualification group is arguably more difficult (best summed up by the fact that this will be their first tournament in 36 years), yet their is simply a lack of flair and brilliance in the squad that you would normally associate with South American teams.
What we did learn from the Peruvians though is that they have a never-say-die attitude. It’s actually ridiculous how many goals they score in the second-half compared to the first (approximately 4:1) and the fact that they score more than a third in the final fifteen minutes is a credit to their fitness and resolve. The goal that secured their fifth-placed finish in the CONMEBOL table was unsurprisingly achieved in the 76th minute.
So can Peru shock the French? If they can manage to hold on for long enough to stay in the game, we could see late drama. France will need to be aware of the second-half threat, and Deschamps will need to be astute with his substitutions if the game remains in the balance.
France enter as huge favourites in this one for the second time in a row, priced at just -221. The draw can be obtained at +351, while Peru are available at +574. We’re going with France in this match, but expect it to be closer than people are predicting. 2-0 the final score.