World Cup 2018 – The Fans’ Preview: Group C

World Cup 2018 is going to be here very soon, the biggest sporting event on earth and i think its time for a quick overall view of of the teams in the competition. We will post some analysis to share with you and lets get a few of the microwave pop corn ready, clean your sofa and stock up your fridge and do the count down!!!

Group C is not an easy one to call.

The star-studded top seeds France are favourites to take one of the two spots for the knockout rounds, but they will still face stiff competition from many people’s dark horses Denmark, hipster favourites Peru and Australia, now competing in their fourth consecutive finals.

The Danes, the Peruvians and the Australians were all late to book their flights to Russia.

Denmark, led by Christian Erkisen, needed the playoffs to secure their place in Russia, while Peru’s qualification went down to the wire.

Australia too did it the hard way and went through the playoffs. Their reward is Group C and the prospect of facing three sides all in the top 15 of FIFA’s world rankings.

Here’s what the fans think…

1. Australia

Name: Martin Lowe @plasticpitch

Best moment during qualifying: Qualifying was a rollercoaster. There were few in the way of real happy moments, but the final match, a comfortable 3-1 win at home to Honduras was as good as it gets. The big players stood up when it was needed, exemplified by skipper Mile Jedinak who netted an unexpected hat-trick. In the end it wasn’t pretty but the important thing was that they qualified.

Worst moment ever as an Australia fan: The end of this qualification stage was a pretty damning period. A comprehensive defeat to a stuttering Japan and failing to overturn a reachable goal difference swing at home to Thailand well and truly put the Socceroos in their place. World Cup qualification in the last few cycles has become an expectation rather than a honour. Thankfully they were bailed out through the playoffs, where some progress was starting to take shape.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: After failing to get his career really going early on, Andrew Nabbout is making up for lost time. He’s a physical wide man with one hell of a shot on him, a talent that earned him an eye-catching move to continental champions Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan. You wouldn’t put it past him to make an impact in Russia.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: As an Asian football follower I’ll have to tip the best side on the continent, Iran. They possess one of the deepest attacking stocks outside the top contenders. Club form considered, this is starting to feel like a big summer for the nation and its players, who will no doubt be looking to engineer a move to one of Europe’s top leagues.

Which group game are you most nervous about: It doesn’t get much tougher than the first game against France. Anything here will be a bonus, at this stage I’d take anything but a demoralising hammering. Who knows, it might remain tight going into the second half, and with Tim Cahill climbing off the bench maybe we can have a fairytale?

2. Denmark

Name: Nicklas Sørensen

Proudest moment ever as a Denmark fan: One of the proudest moments that I can remember is the 1998 World Cup. I was very young but it’s still imprinted on my mind. Denmark had a great team with players like Michael and Brian Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel etc. They played great against France in the group stage, before outplaying Nigeria in the round of 16. They outplayed a star-packed Brazil team in a fantastic quarter-final but unfortunately lost 3-2. However, it was fantastic display of technical, fast-paced football. It was also the last game on the National team for Michael Laudrup – the best Danish footballer of all time.

Worst moment ever as a Denmark fan: Can I say all the times they have not qualified? Well, being a smaller country we do not always have that many great players, so Denmark have missed out on quite a few tournaments. The biggest disappointment is probably the World Cup in 2006 in Germany. They were so close to sealing a play-off spot, but just missed out by one point.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: The easy answer would be Christian Eriksen, but I think almost everyone is aware that he is an excellent player. In my opinion other teams and fans should also be aware of Pione Sisto from Celta Vigo. He is fast, he can dribble, and he can shoot and do the unexpected. He is a very interesting and talented player.

Realistically how far will Denmark go: Realistically I think Denmark can make it to the round of 16. There are so many talented sides, but if Denmark play to their best, I think they can surprise some of the better sides. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

One player who will make the squad but shouldn’t in your opinion: William Kvist. He’s been around the Danish national side for many years now, and I’ve never been a fan. He’s a holding midfielder, but not an especially good one. He lacks creativity, speed vision and physical strength. It seems like he can only pass the ball from side to side or backwards.

3. France

Name: Alexandre Aflalo @MisteurLeksa

Proudest moment ever as a France fan: I would say 1998, but I was two years old, so I’m going to say France vs Ukraine [playoff for World Cup 2014]. We were 2-0 down after the first leg, but won 3-0 at home to make it to Brazil, thanks to Karim Benzema and the almighty Mamadou Sakho. Absolute. Legend.

Worst moment ever as a France fan: 2008-2012 as a whole, that was an absolute banter era for the French football team, with a particular emphasis on Nicolas Anelka insulting Raymond Domenech at half-time against Mexico, leading to probably the worst World Cup campaign for France.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Presnel Kimpembe. If he’s given any game time (which I hope he will with Laurent Koscileny’s injury), he’s going to blow your minds. Best young defender in the world. Yes, I’m a PSG fan, why do you ask?

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Every single team. It’s World Cup man, let’s spend one whole month sitting on the couch until we can’t stand up anymore and watch every single minute of football that’s offered to us.

Which group game are you most nervous about: I’d say Peru. Because South American football is a tough one and we don’t know what this team’s capable of, unlike Denmark and Australia that we know better.

Realistically how far will France go: In 2016, I said France had everything to win it. The team’s even better know in my honest opinion. If we’re strong enough mentally, no-one will be able to stop us.

4. Peru

Name: Vanessa Espinoza

Best moment during qualification: Beating Ecuador in Quito for the first time in qualification history – it was what actually got us into the qualification spots, and I didn’t expect it to happen.

Worst moment ever as a Peru fan: The ‘Golf Los Incas’ scandal in 2007. Following a 0-0 draw against Brazil and with a Quito game looming, several players went out to party. I lost a lot of faith then.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Miguel Trauco [now a defender at Flamengo] managed to stop Dybala in Lima, while still playing in the local league.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Spain has seemingly succeeded in the generational change, so they have a good shot at getting their second World Cup this summer.

Which group game are you most nervous about: The one against Denmark. On paper, that’s where the competition for the second qualifying spot is.

Realistically how far will Peru go: Probably the round of 16.

 

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