Even if only a friendly this game actually has deeper implications for both teams.
France have no chance of topping their qualifying group but in the same time the playoff place is assured. Coach Deschamps is already thinking at the playoff and tries to get his team seeded for the draw. A win versus Australia (even if only a friendly) and Finland (qualifier) a couple of days later could probably do the trick.
For Australia, who are already qualified for the World Cup, the stake of the game is keeping German coach Osieck on the bench and assuring continuity before the tournament.
For France central defender Koscielny is injured and most probably will be substituted by Sakho, especially now when his confidence is boosted after transferring to Liverpool. Otherwise there should be no changes in the lineup, even if players like Remy or Varane were recalled after a significant absence.
Young Pogba and Matuidi will be the central midfielders and both of them appear to sometime neglect the defensive duties. Matuidi is not really a defensive midfielder and Pogba is still very young and likes to participate in the offensive phase, often being caught on the wrong foot on counters.
Payet – Valbuena – Ribery will initiate the offensive phase for France while in form striker Giroud try to convert every ball coming towards him.
Although with only 1 real striker, I see France being very offensive in this game, especially after coach’s Deschamps rhetoric shouted everywhere in the media : “we must win and get seeded”. The key to a successful offensive game will be the participation upfront of central midfielders Pogba and Matuidi (which will happen without doubts).
But under these circumstances the defense will receive little to no help when up against a side determined to keep its coach.
In comparison to Australia’s last game there will be a couple of changes in their lineup. First of all veteran keeper Schwarzer was left out of the squad. He is dusting the bench at Chelsea now and also was considered responsible for a couple of goals conceded from Brazil. This is not exactly a good choice since Schwarzer had tremendous experience and knew how to organize the defense around him. We are talking about a defense already in disarray (13 goals in last 3 games…) that will suffer even more now.
The good news is that stars Cahill and Wilkshire will be available for this game. Cahill can surely make a difference for the attacking phase, especially with his form (10 goals in 25 games in MLS and keep in mind he is a midfielder…), but when it comes to Wilkshire it remains to be seen if he will strengthen the defense.
Australia will most likely have a central midfield with Cahill and Kruse (talented player from Leverkusen, also in great form), a central midfield that will concentrate only on creating and converting and won’t participate too often in the defensive phase.
Both sides will be motivated and push from the start. The attacking mind set of central midfielders from both sides is our assurance of a high scoring game. The price on over 2.5 goals could be higher, but still is a good deal at 1.83.