Antoine Griezmann has delivered a multi-layered insult to the “physical” Socceroos, admitting he knows little about their players ahead of France’s World Cup opener on Saturday night.
The notoriously slow-starting French, littered with one of the most talented squads in Russia, will be desperate to kick their campaign off in style against the Aussies in Kazan.
Griezmann, who is heavily tipped to complete a big-money move to Barcelona next season, will shoulder much of the responsibility for banging in the goals for France.
However, the Atletico Madrid hitman has delivered a subtle backhand to his first round opponents, who he suggests will undoubtedly bring a rough approach to their opening clash.
“Considering Australia, I am not afraid they will be physical because they are not as tactical,” Griezmann told reporters in Russia.
“Tactically we will have to be strong and defensively as well.
“I know two or three (Socceroos) players and it will be hard and tomorrow we are going to watch videos of Australia to work on it.”
France have won just one of their opening World Cup fixtures (3-0 against Honduras in 2014) since infamously going down to Senegal 1-0 at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.
Griezmann says Le Blues are determined to come out all guns blazing against the Socceroos.
“Winning the first game is very important,” he said.
“I think it is the most important in the group, especially at a team level.”
The 27-year-old striker says France’s highly rated young squad are confident of something special at the showpiece event in Russia.
“If we don’t think we can win the World Cup we would be better staying in France, so yes we want to win it,’’ he said. “We have the players to do something great.”
Two days out from their date with destiny, Australia boast a fit and healthy squad, with all 23 players ready to go and a number of selections headaches for coach Bert van Marwijk to figure out.
Seven players appear guaranteed their positions in van Marwijk’s side to play the world No.7, based on the Dutchman’s preferences and comments.
Mat Ryan, long Australia’s No.1 goalkeeper, is a lock to start.
While the lead-up performances of the Socceroos’ back four have left a little to be desired, van Marwijk’s reticence to even bring in substitutes through their warm-up friendlies suggests he is firm in his mind about his defence.
Aziz Behich and Josh Risdon will start as the full-backs, as converted midfielder Mark Milligan partners Trent Sainsbury in the centre.
Aaron Mooy, arguably Australia’s most important player, will play as one of the holding midfielders.
But the only man assured of a role in the Socceroos’ front four is right winger Mat Leckie.
The left-sided attacker, striker and attacking midfielder positions are giving van Marwijk headaches, along with the decision on who will partner Mooy at the base of midfield.
Andrew Nabbout, one of the contenders to start up front, said he was “100 per cent ready” for the marquee occasion should van Marwijk call his name.
“He wants that pressing at the front,” Nabbout said.
“He wants people to put teams under pressure and run in from behind. That’s my game
“Hopefully I get that chance and I’m going to keep on doing that.”
Jackson Irvine, who is in the frame to start as a No.10 but behind incumbent Tom Rogic, said he was relaxed about the call.
“I’m glad I’ve been spoken of, and maybe given him a selection headache,” he said.
“There’s so many talented players in our squad, and maybe a few positions up for grabs on the next few days, but the manager is very pragmatic and he’ll prepare the team well.”