With FIFA World Cup 2022 finally here, we bring you the lowdown on Group D, which consists of France, Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia.
People from all over the world will be travelling to Qatar, where 32 teams will be fighting amongst themselves to lay a hand on the prestigious Jules Rimet trophy. The group stage will kick-start on November 20, with the final scheduled to take place on December 18.
Tackles will be flying in, managers will be embedded in analysing their tactical astuteness, injuries and tears and a lot more are to be witnessed in the coming month. But before the ball rolls, The Hard Tackle will assess each group and will try to figure out what can be expected from the teams.
Today, we will have a look at Group D, consisting of reigning world champion France, UEFA Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark, Asian power Australia and sleeping giants Tunisia. Here’s an analysis of each of the teams and their chances of making it to the knockouts.
Group D – France, Denmark, Australia, Tunisia
November 22: Denmark vs Tunisia; France vs Australia
November 26: Tunisia vs Australia; France vs Denmark
November 30: Tunisia vs France; Australia vs Denmark
The current title holders have gone through a massive makeover since their triumph back in 2018. But France are still tipped to progress to the later stages of the tournament.
Since Brazil defied the odds to defend their title in 1962, no other team has managed to change lift the Jules Rimet trophy in back-to-back editions. But Les Bleus certainly have the quality and ability to pencil down their name in history forever.
Didier Deschamps has remained one of the most coveted managers in world football. And with a number of exponential stars available at his disposal, it will be very interesting to see which players make his starting lineup.
France’s recent form would suggest they would definitely back up the recent trend which has seen four out of the five World Cup champions crashing out from the group stage of the following edition.
With Australia and Tunisia competing in their group, the chances of their elimination from the initial stage are very slim. But the World Cup always brings surprises, so people will have to be ready to digest some bitter results.
Deschamps has been able to protect the core of their champion team from 2018. But the absence of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba means the onus will be on Aurelien Tchouameni to keep the engine room warm and running.
Key Players: Aurelien Tchouameni and Kylian Mbappe
France will rely much on the Real Madrid midfielder as he has become the backbone of Europe’s most successful club in recent times. The 22-year-old has had a meteoric rise through leaps and bounds. And Deschamps will be looking at Tchouameni a lot in the absence of his two prime midfielders N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.
There have been very few generational talents than Kylian Mbappe in the last few years. The 23-year-old announced his arrival on the biggest stage in 2018. And if he maintains his scoring rate, France will be counted as a serious contender this time.
On the back of a very successful qualifying campaign, Denmark would surely be hoping to pin their hopes on a fit and motivated Christian Eriksen. The unfortunate incident at UEFA Euro 2020 was able to knit the side together even more, and the effect was pretty ever-lasting as they went on to the semi-finals only to concede a narrow defeat at the hands of England.
Having already defeated France in the UEFA Nations League, they will be aware of their own strength. And in the recent past, Denmark have displayed their ability to adapt to the given conditions.
Kasper Hjulmand has induced more confidence and passion into an already solid team which has been playing some wonderful football in recent times. They opted for a three-man defence system in their brilliant run to the Euro semi-finals but lined up with a four-man backline in recent games which speaks volumes about their versatility.
High-pressing and attacking full-backs are an exhibition of his high-flying team. And in Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Denmark have two of the most underrated midfielders who can change the course of the game at any given moment. Their match-up with France could decide the outcome of the group as Australia and Tunisia are unlikely to pose any serious threat.
Key Players: Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Eriksen has made Manchester United look like a well-oiled machine, and he will try to unlock Denmark’s attack with his precisive link-up play. The experienced playmaker has the capability to pick up the perfect pass and he can also be threatening from a set-piece situation. And after the horrors of UEFA Euro 2020, Eriksen will be eager to leave Qatar on a more memorable note.
Meanwhile, Hojbjerg’s influence can be felt be he is one of the key parts as Kasper Hjulmand tried to build blocks by blocks to ensure they have a lengthy stay in Qatar. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder links the entire team to a string, and if Denmark are to grind out something, he needs to have the majority 0f the ball.
Australia drained themselves out as they had a lengthy qualifying spell in an attempt to book a ticket for this esteemed competition. They had to encounter two tough group stages followed by two playoffs, and the Asian giants would do everything required to make their presence felt on the big stage.
The Socceroos have been regular faces at the World Cup since the 2006 edition, when they managed to get past the group stage. That year, they were defeated by Italy by a slender margin, and the Azzurri went on to lift their fourth World Cup.
Graham Arnold’s men did not impress in the pre-World Cup campaign, and calls were made to remove him from the position of head coach. But Arnold stood tall in his faith. And despite the scrappy affairs, Australia will be heading towards their fifth World Cup finals in a row, for which Arnold deserves some of the credit.
The absence of a certain former stalwarts like Tim Cahill or Mile Jedinak could be observed. But the Socceroos believe in a team game, and that could be their road to success in this World Cup.
Key Players: Aaron Mooy and Mat Ryan
Mooy might have aged a bit but he has aged well. The 31-year-old is still the most composed player in the Australian squad and will help his country to tick all the required boxes. The Celtic midfielder has enjoyed a quite productive season so far and will try to shift his focus to the international stage.
Mat Ryan has only grown in his stature and has had some very significant experience leading the team in Qatar. An excellent shot-stopper, the 30-year-old also will be marshalling his troops from the last line of defence as he has been handed the armband to ensure they remain on the right track from the start.
Tunisia are made of solid steel and could ring in a few upsets in the opening stage. African countries have emerged as the surprise packages in the last few editions, and the tryst should continue as Tunisia seem to be on a giant-killing spree.
The Carthage Eagles are still looking to make their way into their first knockout stage, and the podium is set to defy all the shackles. Jalel Kadri has accumulated a number of committed and passionate men, and they will be adamant to minimise the damage this time.
A win over France and Denmark can be desired definitely as Kadri has the tactical proficiency to hand the European powerhouses an unlikely defeat. Goals are hard to bypass through their defence, while they could snuff out the danger to pile more misery on the opponent.
The Tunisia head coach has set the basics right to build a solid setup and will hope the players can emulate their recent performances. Wins over Japan and Chile earlier this year have set the tone for an exciting grand event in Qatar, and one can definitely place their bets on them to be the party poopers this time.
Key Players: Ellyes Skhiri and Wahbi Khazri
Everything has to be passed through Ellyes Skhiri as the midfielder has made a name for himself as one of the most hardworking players for Tunisia. The 27-year-old will appear in the middle of the pitch and needs to cut out the opposition supply as he very often does that with sheer ease.
Wahbi Khazri is not a new man on this circuit, and he is the kind of dream attacker that every manager loves to possess. The former Sunderland man can shield the ball, drop into the channels to help his wide players and can also be effective with his silky smooth skills with the ball at his feet.
Likely to Qualify: France and Denmark
Tunisia and Australia have the quality to trouble the more heralded national teams in the group. But in all honesty, the FIFA World Cup 2022 group stage campaign should be a breeze for both the European powerhouses.
Denmark will have Christian Eriksen strutting his stuff a little over a year after his health scare at UEFA Euro 2020. And with the experienced playmaker in fine form, they should not struggle against Tunisia and Australia.
On the other hand, France will be one of the heavy favourites to go all the way in Qatar. And despite the controversies surrounding their exit from UEFA Euro 2020, Les Bleus should storm through the group stage here.