Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembélé won their first ever World Cup match with France as one of the tournament favorites beat Australia in Kazan in the Group C opener. That sounds normal if you haven’t watched the game, but this was far from normal. France struggled a lot throughout the entire 90 minutes, and needed help from VAR and the Football Gods to escape with a 2-1 victory. Oh, and Umtiti made a 12-year-old kid’s error. Wasn’t great.
The scene was set from the very first minute: France would have the ball, Australia would defend deep and try to frustrate Les Bleus into losing their composure and getting desperate. The plan worked to perfection for the Socceroos as France continued to misplace easy passes and make poor decisions in the attacking third.
Australia didn’t care about scoring, but they did threaten Hugo Lloris and the French defense at times, and the first half did not have any meaningful chances for either side as we reached halftime.
The start of the second half was pretty much the same as the entire first period, but then the craziness happened. In just five minutes, VAR reversed a referee decision and awarded France a penalty, which Antoine Griezmann easily scored; then Samuel Umtiti made a bizarre error and handled the ball in the box, and it was time for Mile Jedinak score a penalty for his team.
France were clearly very desperate as we reached the final 15 minutes of the game, and it seemed like their only chance to score was on a lucky play. And it happened when Pogba and Behich went for the ball inside the box, and the ball somehow went in after hitting the crossbar.
This is a very disappointing start for the French, and they have to find a way to get better. And they have to do it quick.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Lucas; Tolisso (Matuidi), Kanté, Pogba; Griezmann (Giroud), Mbappé, Dembélé (Fekir)
Goals: Griezmann (57’), Pogba (80’)
Australia: Ryan; Risdon, Sainsbury, Milligan, Behich; Mooy, Jedinak; Leckie, Rogic (Irvine), Kruse (Arzani); Nabbout (Juric)
Goal: Jedinak (61’)