Why France first up could be a blessing in disguise for Socceroos

13 June 2018 10:18 AM

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Their other two victories came when they beat England 2-1 at the 2004 Euros, with both of France's goals coming in added time. Zinedine Zidane leveled in the 91st minute before scoring a penalty for the winner in the 93rd. France also beat Romania 2-1 at the 2016 Euros on home soil after Dimitri Payet scored an 89th-minute winner.

France failed to score in three of their opening-round draws: they were held 0-0 by Switzerland at the 2006 World Cup, Romania at Euro 2008 and by a 10-man Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup. They drew 1-1 with England at Euro 2012.

Conversely, in their past eight major tournaments, France have gone on to achieve some impressive results after opening-day struggles. Most notably they eliminated Brazil, Spain and Portugal in 2006 to reach the final, only to be beaten by Italy, when player of the tournament Zidane was famously sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi.

Socceroos winger Mat Leckie believes if Australia can avoid conceding an early goal they will have a strong chance of continuing France's unenviable opening-day record.

"The longer we stay in the game, the more pressure they’ll get and the more risks they’ll take," he said. "Maybe we can get them when they’re a little bit vulnerable. They’re definitely going to go for the win and push forward. The longer we stay in the game, the more risks and players they’ll probably send forward and then maybe we can get them on the break."

Source: brisbanetimes.com.au

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