France are an “unbelievable team” but Australia can punish any rustiness or overconfidence, according to former midfielder Jacob Burns.
Didier Deschamps’ men, among the World Cup favourites, are widely expected to begin their tournament with a win over the Socceroos in Group C on Saturday.
Australia go into the showpiece event on the back of wins over the Czech Republic and Hungary, matches that marked just their third and fourth games under coach Bert van Marwijk.
Burns, who made 11 appearances in the green and gold, believes facing France in their opening game could work in the Socceroos’ advantage.
“I think they’re going to take that confidence into the first game against France and I think Bert is a very experienced manager, he’s got some wonderful backroom staff with a lot of experience,” he told Omnisport.
“I’m hoping we start off like a house on fire and hopefully catch France, who are an unbelievable team, early in the piece.
“I look at our group and you want to be playing them first game because you may catch them a little bit cold, a little bit overconfident. We’ll take the two wins in the friendlies leading in and be full of confidence.”
— Socceroos (@Socceroos) June 13, 2018
The clash against France is undoubtedly Australia’s toughest in the group, with Denmark (June 21) and Peru (June 26) to follow.
Burns, who played at the likes of Leeds United and Barnsley before finishing his career with Perth Glory, acknowledged the Socceroos face a huge challenge to get out of their group.
“It’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt, but that’s what World Cups are all about,” he said.
“We’re in an extremely strong group, but they’re big games in a World Cup tournament, where you can take a bit of momentum, you take an early goal and things change.
“There’s a lot of pressure and expectation on the other countries as well. I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure on France.
“I still keep in contact with a lot of ex-French players that have played and they’re full of confidence as they normally are and talking about resting players and this and that, really underestimating the endeavour, the will and the passion that us Aussies have.
“You get a lot of guys in there that will be playing with absolutely no fear. They’re still riding the buzz of being selected in the squad and thriving in that opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world at the biggest tournament in the world.”
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