France put faith in Mbappé as injury-hit holders begin their defence

Les Bleus’ hopes of emulating Brazil may rest on their superstar forward avoiding a repeat of Pelé’s fate in 1962No men’s world champions have successfully defended their title since Brazil kept the crown in Chile 60 years ago. The feat has been accomplished only twice in the 92-year history of the World Cup, although the possibility of a curse upon the holders is the least of Didier Deschamps’ concerns ahead of France’s pursuit of the hat-trick.Deschamps seemed worry-free before Tuesday’s opener against Australia, in fairness, as he posed with a host of star-struck journalists who embarrassingly asked for selfies at his pre-match press conference. As for that so-called curse: “This is based on statistics, probabilities and facts,” the France head coach said, validating a theory he was attempting to dismiss. “We have our objective. Everything that came before is on the sideline now. We will be ready.”

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