IT was good of France to introduce a hint jeopardy into their first game of the 2022 World Cup.
The defending champions went 1-0 down to Australia on Tuesday night and, given they had failed to win five of their previous six games, whispered criticisms began to spread.
However, Les Bleus were quick to stamp out the embers of concern as they took charge to eventually register a swaggering 4-1 victory.
Australia’s opening goal proved to be just a consolation
Earlier this week, we flagged Olivier Giroud’s potential to Dream Team World Cup gaffers and those who took our advice were rewarded with a 13-point haul as the 36-year-old target man bagged a brace to equal Thierry Henry’s record of 51 France goals.
Kylian Mbappe, the second-most popular player in the game right now, registered ten points after scoring and providing an assist.
The PSG forward was far too good for the Aussie defenders and his imposing performance was only blotted by a glaring miss and a loose touch when through one-one-one with Matt Ryan – he would have had a hat-trick on another day.
And Antoine Griezmann banked eight points as he swooped for the Star Man award with a puppeteer’s performance at No10 – he always seems to save his best form for major tournaments.
Dream Team World Cup bosses had a pretty good idea of the France’s forward line prior to the tournament but the midfield situation was not so clear.
Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante have been guaranteed starters for most of Didier Deschamps’ reign and so when the pair were ruled out through injury, a spanner was thrown into the works.
Rabiot equalised for the defending world championsgetty
As predicted, Aurelien Tchouameni fulfilled the anchor role but some may have been surprised to see Adrien Rabiot selected as the shuttling No8.
The Juventus midfielder has a fractious history with the national team, four years ago he refused to be on Les Bleus’ standby list – his ego has hindered his career progression a few times.
But the air has been cleared and relations between the 27-year-old and Deschamps will be better than ever after the former scored one and assisted another to swiftly reverse Australia’s ascendancy.
Rabiot pocketed ten points for his efforts and suddenly looks a viable option in Dream Team World Cup given the swaggering nature of France’s win.
He costs £4m and currently appears in just 1.5% of teams.
Perhaps more enticing is Ousmane Dembele, who got the nod to start on the right flank in Deschamps’ 4-2-3-1 formation on Tuesday night and looked plenty threatening, albeit against significantly inferior opposition.
gettyIn the shop window for Dream Team World Cup bosses[/caption]
The Barcelona winger is a somewhat enigmatic performer, equally capable of frustrating brain fades as he is breathtaking skills.
Later in the tournament, France’s coach may opt to bolster the midfield with someone like Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi or Eduardo Camavinga – he may even feel Denmark pose a suitable threat in their next game to warrant such a switch.
But at £3.5m and as attack-minded as midfield assets come, Dembele is an asset to consider at the very least – he earned five points against Australia by virtue of a 7+ rating and an assist.
After Argentina’s dramatic false start, France’s comfortable opening will convince many Dream Team World Cup managers to redistribute their faith – expect Rabiot and Dembele to be popular recruits in the next few days.