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FIFA World Cup 2022 Preview: Group D


(Goal.com)


By. Vincent Tran


Group D at the 2022 World Cup has a familiar look for three teams here. Defending World Cup champions France meet Denmark and Australia once again in the group stage, as they were all in the same group at the 2018 World Cup, and they are joined by Tunisia.


On paper, the two favourites look to be France and Denmark, but Australia and Tunisia have talented players who will surely give the two European sides a challenge.


France

(SNL24)

Matches:

Nov. 22 vs Australia

Nov. 26 vs Denmark

Nov. 30 vs Tunisia


FIFA ranking: 4

Last World Cup Performance: World Cup champions in 2018


France are undoubtedly one of the favourites coming into this World Cup and will look to defend their title as world champions.


Much can be said about their depth of talent when they’re still able to field a strong squad even after missing the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Mike Maignan, and Christopher Nkunku through injury. However, the concerns with the French aren’t about talent, rather it’s their team chemistry and recent form.


France has had some off-pitch controversies come to light in recent times with the Pogba witch doctor scandal, as well as Kylian Mbappé’s image rights dispute with the French federation. Their recent form has also been poor, having only won one match in their last six, with two losses coming to fellow Group D team Denmark.


But, as we’ve seen in the past, if France’s talent can all come together harmoniously, then they can beat any team in the world and are among the favourites to win any tournament.


Player to watch:


Aurélien Tchouaméni


With France’s longtime midfield duo in Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté missing the World Cup with injury, Aurélien Tchouaméni looks set to take over in midfield for his nation.


Tchouaméni will likely be joined in midfield by Adrien Rabiot and former AS Monaco midfield partner Youssouf Fofana, however, Tchouaméni will likely be the game changer for his nation. His passing range and defensive abilities will be crucial for France in midfield.


Aurélien Tchouaméni has already shown that he’s capable of taking over on the big stage, as he’s playing well for Real Madrid after midfield deputy Casemiro departed for Manchester United in the summer, so expectations will be high for him to do the same for his nation.


Of course, France has big contributors such as Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema, and Raphaël Varane, but if they are going to have a chance at successfully defending their title, Aurélien Tchouaméni will have to step up and show that he’s capable of being a difference-maker at the international level.


Full squad list:


Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)


Defenders: Lucas Hernández (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernández (AC Milan), Raphaël Varane (Manchester United), Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Jules Koundé (Barcelona), Axel Disasi (AS Monaco)


Midfielders: Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (AS Monaco), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Mattéo Guendouzi (Marseille), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)


Attackers: Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt)


Australia

(Fox News)


Matches:

Nov. 22 vs France

Nov. 26 vs Tunisia

Nov. 30 vs Denmark


FIFA ranking: 38

Last World Cup Performance: First-round group stage elimination in 2018


Australia are the lowest-ranked team in this group, according to the FIFA rankings, but don’t let that ranking fool you as they are a very capable side and could cause some issues for the other teams in Group D.


The Socceroos are a tough team that plays very hard and will hit teams on the counter when given the opportunity. The Aussies also haven’t conceded more than two goals in a match in 39 consecutive matches, the last time doing so on March 23, 2018, when they lost 4-1 to Norway in a friendly match.


That being said, their World Cup qualifying campaign left a lot to be desired, finishing third in their group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, respectively, and eventually qualifying by beating Peru on penalties during the inter-confederation play-offs.


If the Socceroos want to put that qualification campaign behind them, they will have to show some of that toughness that Australian soccer is known for and prove that they won’t break under stronger opposition with the likes of France and Denmark who have a plethora of offensive talent.


Player to watch:


Garang Kuol


Garang Kuol is an exciting name that many fans of Australia’s soccer team will be buzzing at.


The 18-year-old is Australia’s youngest player ever to be selected for the World Cup and looks set to be one of the best Australian soccer players in the future.


Even though Kuol only made his senior team debut for the Socceroos on Sept. 25 against New Zealand, he could be in line to play more at the World Cup with starting right-winger Martin Boyle struggling for fitness leading up to Australia’s group-stage matches.


Kuol is a very direct player who isn’t afraid of taking on defenders and his speed can give Australia a lethal threat on the counter. In 12 A-League Men games for the Central Coast Mariners, Kuol has six goals and three assists, while only playing a total of 284 minutes.


The Newcastle United-bound player is definitely an exciting prospect for the future, but he could potentially announce himself to Australia and the world if he’s able to showcase his talents at the World Cup.


Full squad list:


Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (FC Copenhagen), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners)


Defenders: Milos Degenek (Columbus Crew), Fran Karacic (Brescia), Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts), Bailey Wright (Sunderland), Aziz Behich (Dundee United), Kye Rowles (Hearts), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Joel King (Odense Boldklub), Thomas Deng (Albirex Niigata)


Midfielders: Ajdin Hrustic (Hellas Verona), Aaron Mooy (Celtic), Riley McGree (Middlesbrough), Jackson Irvine (St Pauli), Keanu Baccus (St Mirren), Cameron Devlin (Hearts)


Attackers: Martin Boyle (Hibernian), Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Awer Mabil (Cadiz), Mitchell Duke (Fagiano Okayama), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United), Jason Cummings (Central Coast Mariners), Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)



Denmark

(Sportstar)


Matches:

Nov. 22 vs Tunisia

Nov. 26 vs France

Nov. 30 vs Australia


FIFA ranking: 10

Last World Cup Performance: Round of 16 elimination in 2018


Denmark comes into this World Cup in relatively good form and will like their chances at advancing into the knockout rounds.


Since their remarkable run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020, the Danes have won 11 of 15 matches and finished first in their World Cup qualifying group, winning nine of 10 matches and scoring 30 goals while only conceding three. They also finished second in their Nations League group, beating France twice.


Those wins against France will likely give the Danish confidence heading into their matchup against the World Cup holders on matchday two and if they are able to replicate their play in those matches, they could end up finishing on top of Group D.


If Denmark is able to come together as a team as they did at Euro 2020, but this time with Christian Eriksen, then they might be in for a deep run at this World Cup and could emerge as a dark horse candidate to win the tournament.


Player to watch:


Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg


It goes without saying that the main star in this Denmark team is Christian Eriksen and his talent is essential for the team, but midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is arguably just as important as Eriksen is.


Hojbjerg’s ability to control the game along with Christian Eriksen will be crucial to Denmark’s World Cup campaign this winter.


His vision and passing range will help dictate Denmark’s play and without him in midfield, Denmark would not be able to progress the ball as well as they could.


Hojbjerg’s work in midfield may go unnoticed at times, but for Denmark he will be a big factor and is definitely one to pay attention to if Denmark are able to be successful at this World Cup.


Full squad list:


Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Nice), Frederik Ronnow (Union Berlin), Oliver Christensen (Hertha Berlin)


Defenders: Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Jens Stryger Larsen (Trabzonspor), Daniel Wass (Brøndby), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Rasmus Kristensen (Leeds United), Victor Nelsson (Galatasaray), Alexander Bah (Benfica)


Midfielders: Thomas Delaney (Sevilla), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Christian Eriksen (Manchester United), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Christian Norgaard (Brentford), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim)


Attackers: Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Martin Braithwaite (Espanyol), Andreas Cornelius (FC Copenhagen), Kasper Dolberg (Sevilla), Andreas Skov Olsen (Club Brugge), Jesper Lindstrom (Eintracht Frankfurt), Mikkel Damsgaard (Brentford), Jonas Wind (VfL Wolfsburg)



Tunisia


(New Frame)


Matches:

Nov. 22 vs Denmark

Nov. 26 vs Australia

Nov. 30 vs France


FIFA ranking: 30

Last World Cup Performance: First-round group stage elimination in 2018


Similar to Australia, Tunisia are a tricky side to beat and could potentially cause some problems for their opposition.


Before their 5-1 loss to Brazil on Sept. 27, Tunisia did not concede a single goal in seven straight matches, picking up wins against Japan and Chile on the way. Since the last World Cup, Tunisia has played 58 matches, conceding more than one goal, seven times and keeping a clean sheet in 29 of those 58 matches.


Clearly, Tunisia is not an easy team to beat. This will be critical going up against France and Denmark and if they’re able to grind out matches and frustrate their opponents, they’ll like their chances at taking some points away from those group favourites.


Since being appointed as manager in late January of this year, Jalel Kadri has brought a sense of stability to Tunisia’s football team and if he’s able to keep his backline solid and organized, then Tunisia could prove to be a tougher side than most will expect.


Player to watch:


Wahbi Khazri


Much of Tunisia’s playstyle is predicated on the solidity of their backline and defensive shape, but going forward they’re going to need something extra in order to cause serious issues for the other teams in Group D and who better to do so than Wahbi Khazri.


The Montpellier man currently has two goals and one assist on the season, but those numbers aren’t indicative of his talents.


Before joining Montpellier this season, Khazri made 114 appearances for Saint-Étienne, scoring 37 goals and getting 14 assists. Khazri also remains one of Tunisia’s most prolific players and has 24 goals for his country and will once again be called upon to supply the offensive load for his nation.


If Tunisia are able to break down their opponent’s attack, expect to see Wahbi Khazri leading the way for his country on the other end of the pitch.


Full squad list:


Goalkeepers: Mouez Hassen (Club Africain), Aymen Dahmen (CS Sfaxien), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir), Aymen Mathlouthi (Étoile du Sahel)


Defenders: Bilel Ifa (Kuwait SC), Montassar Talbi (Lorient), Yassine Meriah (Espérance de Tunis), Nader Ghandri (Club Africain), Dylan Bronn (Salernitana), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Mohamed Drager (Luzern), Wajdi Kechrida (Atromitos), Ali Abdi (Caen)


Midfielders: Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City), Ferjani Sassi (Al-Duhail), Aïssa Laïdouni (Ferencváros), Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane (Espérance de Tunis), Ellyes Skhiri (Köln), Ghaylène Chaalali (Espérance de Tunis), Anis Ben Slimane (Brøndby)


Attackers: Youssef Msakni (Al-Arabi), Issam Jebali (Odense Boldklub), Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek), Naïm Sliti (Al-Ettifaq)



Predictions


At the top of this group, its very close between France and Denmark, however, even though their recent form has been poor, France should still be able to top Group D. Denmark has been in great form since Euro 2020 and could realistically finish ahead of France, but France’s talent and World Cup experience puts them slightly ahead.


Tunisia and Australia are no pushovers, but given that they’re in a group with two clear favourites in France and Denmark, they might be slightly overmatched going up against those teams.


  1. France

  2. Denmark

  3. Tunisia

  4. Australia

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