France needed a penalty and an own goal to get them past Australia in their opening Group C match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Peru are set to hand the pool favourites a stiffer task in Ekaterinburg on Thursday.
While Les Bleus were somewhat fortunate to emerge triumphant in their tournament bow, the Peruvians were unlucky not to glean a point from their meeting with Denmark and are now seeking a response to that 1-0 defeat.
Elsewhere in Group C, the Danes can open up some daylight at the summit if they manage to beat Australia at the Samara Arena and the result of the other pool match goes in their favour.
Thursday's late kick-off pits Argentina against their biggest Group D competitors and current leaders, Croatia, who know a win over the South Americans would prevent Jorge Sampaoli's men finishing top of the standings.
The shocks have been myriad at the World Cup in Russia, and here we discuss some more potential surprises for Thursday, complete with the fixture schedule and latest match odds.
Denmark 2-1 Australia, 4 p.m. local time/1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET
France 1-1 Peru, 8 p.m. local time/4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET
Argentina 2-2 Croatia, 9 p.m. local time/7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET
Thursday's Match Odds
Denmark (7-10; bet $143 to win $100), Draw (3-1), Australia (37-10)
France (3-10), Draw (24-5), Peru (8-1)
Argentina (18-25), Draw (23-10), Croatia (2-1)
Odds courtesy of OddsShark
Projected Group Standings (Goal Difference)
1. Denmark: 6 (+2)
2. France: 4 (+1)
3. Peru: 1 (-1)
4. Australia: 0 (-2)
1. Croatia: 4 (+2)
2. Argentina: 2 (0)
3. Iceland: 1 (0)
4. Nigeria: 0 (-2)
The agony felt by Peru was only too clear following their opening 1-0 defeat to Denmark, a match in which they outshot their opponents 17-10, per WhoScored.com, and missed a penalty through Christian Cueva.
Such slips can't be afforded against France on Thursday, although Les Bleus head coach Didier Deschamps is still attempting to perfect his team despite their narrow win over Australia.
An Antoine Griezmann penalty and an own goal forced by Paul Pogba helped snatch the three points, but analytics guru 11tegen11 showed how their attack in particular needs to improve its play:
Peru have laid the foundation for their World Cup largely on emotion and the fact this is their first finals appearance since 1982, but there's talent in the team and a defence that's not to be dismissed.
The attack could benefit from Paolo Guerrero's return to the starting XI, and they will boast a better back line than the Socceroos, with YouTuber David Vujanic one of those backing Ricardo Gareca's side to stage a surprise for the bookies:
The shock results won't stop there on Thursday, though, as a capable-looking Croatia will be the next to attempt dampening Argentinian dreams in what's been a bit of a theme for La Albiceleste fans in recent years.
Their 2014 World Cup runners-up finish aside, Argentina have become accustomed to expectations not being met.
After drawing 1-1 with Iceland on Saturday, Sampaoli is expected to shuffle his deck, per writer Peter Coates, but it's debatable whether change in formation is the best way to alter results:
Croatia are something of an antithesis to Argentina in that regard; they don't boast the same weaponry—although their midfield is strong—but they are a solid outfit and proved as much in their 2-0 win over Nigeria.
Expect the midfield to play a particularly significant role on Thurday, when a special onus will fall on Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren to help quell the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
In Group C, Denmark will look to continue their good form against Australia and should be able to keep pace at the top of the pool, with Nine News Melbourne recently breaking down a must-win match for them:
The problem for the Socceroos has long been in attack, and it speaks volumes that Mile Jedinak scored from a spot-kick to provide their only goal in the defeat to France, even if they did have chances from open play.
Denmark have greater quality across the park and possess a top-class goalkeeper in Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel. Even if they have a similar dearth of quality strikers as Australia, the rest of their side should have enough to keep top spot in Group C heading into their final pool match.