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 By Ian Holyman

Didier Deschamps: World Cup draw 'could have been worse' for France

ESPN's Julien Laurens believes France will be very happy after drawing Australia, Peru and Denmark.

France coach Didier Deschamps acknowledged Les Bleus' World Cup group "could have been worse" after his heavily fancied side were pitted against Australia, Denmark and Peru.

France will kick off their bid against coachless Australia in Kazan on June 16 before facing Peru in Ekaterinburg and rounding off their Group C fixtures against Denmark in Moscow, playing all three games in 10 frenetic days.

With Spain, England, Croatia and Uruguay among the heavyweight opponents his side avoided, Deschamps told TMC he was happy with his lot.

"Clearly, it could have been worse," said France's 1998 World Cup and EURO 2000-winning captain. "We'll have the time to analyse our opponents in friendly games. It gives us supplementary information which will allow us to make all necessary plans.

"We'll set up friendlies that correspond with them. Last time, you were all unanimous in saying that it was a great draw, even certain players... it's not going to happen just by clicking our fingers. We're going to work on ourselves, on our opponents, and go to this World Cup with a lot of ambition."

Deschamps' boss, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet, set the semifinals -- one round further than they went in Brazil four years ago -- as the objective for a talented squad packed with high-profile names such as Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.

Following an underwhelming qualifying campaign which saw France beaten in Sweden and held to a goalless draw at home to Luxembourg, Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe attempted to keep a lid on expectations.

"We're not massive favourites, but I think this team has great qualities, and a coach that has produced results in recent years," he told TMC. "It's up to us to put in all the necessary ingredients. We have to be consistent in the competition, try to win as many matches to gain as much confidence as possible."

"It's a special kind of excitement as we know who we'll play against, if I'm lucky enough to be picked of course," added Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, who is likely to feature alongside the likes of Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot and Juventus' Blaise Matuidi in the centre of the pitch for his country next summer.

"I haven't had time to see the make up of the other groups, but apparently there are some very tricky ones. That doesn't mean I want to say we got an easy one. All the teams in Russia deserve to be there and they'll give everything during the competition.

"A lot of people are going to make us favourites in this group. But it's a status we'll have to embrace. We'll have to stay focused, attentive and determined to go through. Still, the aim is to go as far as possible."

All three of France's opponents came through playoff tests last months in order to qualify, and Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said the group would be very competitive as his side play in their first World Cup in 36 years.

"This is very good for us. It's important. It's going to force us to play at our best," he said. "We need to prepare in the best possible way. It's a difficult group, but I like it. I think [the opponents'] characteristics can adapt well to ours.

"France are a national team that can make a difference. But it's a good group for us. I tell the country [Peru] to be calm, to trust us."

Denmark defender Peter Ankersen said not even favourites France were assured of going through.

"France are really strong but I saw their games against Sweden," he said. "There are places where you can hurt France.

"The other two teams, Australia and Peru, I'm not too familiar with them but immediately I think it's a good enough draw."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

ESPN FC's Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.


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