Socceroos to take on France in tricky draw for 2018

The Socceroos will begin their 2018 World Cup campaign with a glamour tie against France, after they were handed a pretty tough group in the early hours of Saturday morning.

After Iran were drawn alongside Portugal and Spain, immediate fears of Australia once again being drawn into the 'Group of Death' were washed away.

But they will face one of the world's best teams in France, as well as Peru and Denmark, both of whom easily brushed aside their opponents in the play-off round of qualifying.

Australia's last game against France came in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, with Les Bleus handing the Socceroos a 6-0 drubbing, which alongside a loss to Brazil by the same scoreline, was the catalyst for then-manager Holger Osieck stepping down.

But once again, Australia find themselves without a coach, and facing three tough teams. If they could switch places with fellow Asian Football Confederation heavyweights Japan or Saudi Arabia they certainly would but they fared better than Iran and South Korea, who have been handed the two toughest groups.

The juiciest tie of the round sees Portugal and Spain meet in the Group B opener, but with Iran and Morocco rounding out the group, both will still fancy their chances to progress.

Hosts Russia have a palatable assignment, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia rounding out a group in which Uruguay will surely be favoured to top.

As for the rest? It's wide open. You could make a case for three, or in some cases four teams in Groups C through to H to progress, in what is already shaping up to be one of the most open and unpredictable World Cups we've seen.

Socceroos fans may have hoped to have drawn England, but the Three Lions will be happy with a group in which they should at least have enough firepower to see off Panama and Tunisia, if not also Belgium.

It could have been better for Australia, yes, but it could have been far worse - and now we'll have to wait to see if the new coach can come in and navigate through some very tricky opponents and into the knockout stages.

Socceroos fixtures:

Australia v France, Saturday June 16th, 8pm (AEST)

Australia v Denmark, Saturday June 23rd, 1am (AEST)

Australia v Peru, Wednesday June 27th, midnight (AEST)

Full draw results

Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea Republic

Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

This story Socceroos to take on France in tricky draw for 2018 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.