AAP Soccer

Mega-money French size up Socceroos

By AAP Newswire

A billion dollars worth of footballing talent will confront Australia in their World Cup opener with France on June 16.

The French front four of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele is worth more than half a billion alone, underlining the enormous challenge facing the Socceroos in Kazan.

Griezmann, who led Atletico Madrid to the Europa League title this season, is expected to switch clubs this summer for an eye-watering nine-figure sum: no less than 100 million euros.

He could join Lionel Messi and compatriot Dembele in Barcelona's forward line, the French wonder-teen having joined the La Liga giants last summer for 105 million euros.

Dembele became the most expensive teenager of all time in making the move.

Both those moves are dwarfed by Mbappe's move to Paris St Germain, a 180 million euro move from Monaco which will be ratified at the end of this season, and could yet rise with performance bonuses.

Then there's Giroud, who switched London homes from Arsenal to Chelsea in January for the reported sum of 18 million pounds.

Small beer in the context of his teammates, but still a pricey sum for the 31-year-old, who is the highest goalscorer in the French squad.

Combined, that's A$628 million dollars worth of talent - and that's without adding the mega-money deals of Paul Pogba (90 million pounds to Manchester United), Benjamin Mendy (52 million pounds to Manchester City) and N'Golo Kante (32 million pounds to Chelsea).

Together, the squad's value soars well beyond a billon Australian dollars.

And that's why the Socceroos defenders won't be focused on their price tags and reputations.

"The way Australian sporting culture is, the tougher the opponent, the more we seem to rise to the occasion," right-back Josh Risdon said.

"Hopefully we can do that in the first game."

Risdon could find himself marking left-footers Griezmann or Dembele at various times on Saturday and was realistic as to the scale of the challenge.

"Whoever we do come up against is going to be a quality player. Their whole squad is unreal," he said.

"When I grew up watching the World Cup when I was younger, it was around the time they'd just won it. In 2006 obviously, the first one we'd been in for a while, they came so close.

"It's going to be tough whoever they throw out there."

Left-back Behich, likely to come up against Mbappe, said the focus would be on team defence - as they'd practised against Czech Republic and Hungary.

"They've got a lot of quality, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"A lot of high-quality players but at the end of the day it's a team sport.

"Their last two friendlies, we were focused on France.

"The way we played in those two friendlies is what we want to do against France."