World Cup Group D: France, Denmark, Tunisia and Australia

Remark

Relating to Group D on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the road dividing the haves and the have-nots is obvious. Defending champion France and Denmark are ranked in FIFA’s prime 10, and each nations boast wealthy soccer pedigrees that embody main worldwide titles. Tunisia and Australia, in the meantime, received’t be discovered anyplace in FIFA’s prime 10 — or 20. All time, the nations have mixed to play one World Cup knockout sport.

Right here’s a better take a look at Group D, which kicks off Nov. 22 when France meets Australia and Denmark faces Tunisia.

No nation has repeated as World Cup champion because the Pelé-led Brazil groups of 1958 and 1962. Can Les Bleus snap that streak, 20 years after their solely different title protection ended with a first-round exit? With Kylian Mbappé matured right into a full-on famous person and Karim Benzema again within the fold, Didier Deschamps’s squad definitely has the expertise to win all of it — even when N’Golo Kante is about to overlook the World Cup with a hamstring damage and fellow midfielder Paul Pogba was dominated out following knee surgical procedure.


The defending World Cup champion will likely be in search of its third trophy in its sixteenth look.

The defending World Cup champion will likely be in search of its third trophy in its sixteenth look.

The defending World Cup champion will likely be in search of its third trophy in its sixteenth look.

Since failing to qualify for the 1990 and 1994 tournaments, France has been alternatively dominant and disappointing on the World Cup stage. After Zinedine Zidane steered France to the 1998 title on dwelling soil, Les Bleus went dwelling winless 4 years later. A run to the 2006 remaining — which France misplaced to Italy after Zidane infamously was tossed for head-butting an opponent — was adopted by one other winless, first-round exit in 2010. However after advancing to the 2014 quarterfinals, France was the category of the event 4 years in the past in Russia, rattling off a 6-0-1 document that included a cushty 4-2 win over Croatia within the remaining.

The European Championship has proved elusive since France received in 2000 on the again of its World Cup crown. After surprisingly falling to Portugal at dwelling within the Euro 2016 remaining, France suffered a shocking shootout loss to Switzerland within the Euro 2020 spherical of 16. There have been no hiccups in 2022 World Cup qualifying, nevertheless, because the French went 5-0-3 to comfortably safe their ticket to Qatar. And France topped Spain within the remaining to win the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.


Coach

Didier Deschamps

54 years outdated

The core that guided France to its second World Cup title is basically intact, beginning with captain Hugo Lloris, now 35 and nonetheless a rock between the posts for Tottenham. Raphaël Varane, contemporary off a $40 million transfer from Actual Madrid to Manchester United, is a towering presence within the again. Antoine Griezmann, now 31 and again at Atlético Madrid (on mortgage from Barcelona), is previous his prime however nonetheless led Les Bleus with six objectives in qualifying. However the losses of Chelsea’s Kante, a sturdy defensive midfielder, and Juventus’s Pogba, an electrical box-to-box presence, depart France with vital questions down the center.

That mentioned, Deschamps can rely on one world-class expertise he didn’t have 4 years in the past: Actual Madrid striker Benzema. Ostracized due to his alleged function in a intercourse tape and blackmail scandal involving a former France teammate, Benzema was exiled from the French squad for greater than 5 years earlier than returning for final yr’s European Championship. Though Benzema will flip 35 throughout the World Cup, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner has by no means been extra productive, scoring a career-high 44 objectives in all competitions throughout the 2021-22 marketing campaign as Madrid received La Liga and the Champions League.


Kylian Mbappé

23 years outdated, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

Kylian Mbappé

23 years outdated, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

Kylian Mbappé

23 years outdated, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

Regardless of all of that expertise, France will most likely want one other standout World Cup from Mbappé if it desires to defend its crown. 4 years in the past, a 19-year-old Mbappé took dwelling the very best younger participant award after notching 4 objectives — together with a tally within the remaining made him the one teenager aside from Pelé accomplish that feat. Within the intervening years, the now-23-year-old has posted 4 straight 30-goal campaigns for PSG. Electrifying on the ball and scientific within the opposing field, Mbappé has the makings of a future Ballon d’Or winner.

A yr after Denmark emerged because the sentimental favourite of Euro 2020 — enduring the trauma of playmaker Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest within the group stage opener, then making an unlikely run to the semifinals — a recovered Eriksen and his Danish teammates head to Qatar figuring out a prolonged keep isn’t out of the query.


Whereas Denmark received a Euro in 1992, its appearances within the World Cup have been modest.

Whereas Denmark received a Euro in 1992, its appearances within the World Cup have been modest.

Whereas Denmark received a Euro in 1992, its appearances within the World Cup have been modest.

The Danes didn’t qualify for a World Cup till 1986 however have since develop into regulars in soccer’s showcase occasion, punching a ticket to 5 of the previous seven tournaments. They’ve solely made it to the quarterfinals as soon as, in 1998, and crashed out within the spherical of 16 4 years with a shootout loss to eventual finalist Croatia.

The Euro 92 champions made a valiant run at their second European Championship title final yr, topping Wales and the Czech Republic within the knockout spherical earlier than falling to England within the semifinal. They usually had been downright dominant in World Cup qualifying, going 9-1-0 to win Group F and guide a visit to Qatar.


Coach

Kasper Hjulmand

50 years outdated

Denmark Coach Kasper Hjulmand — a former defender who performed faculty soccer at North Florida — has a veteran-heavy squad at his disposal. That begins with Kasper Schmeichel, the 35-year-old goalkeeper who moved from Leicester Metropolis to Good this summer time after an 11-year run with the Foxes that included the 5,000-to-1 run to the 2015-16 Premier League title.

Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen and Barcelona’s Andreas Christensen maintain down the again line, whereas Sevilla’s Thomas Delaney and Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pull the strings in central midfield. Espanyol attacker Martin Braithwaite, who not too long ago joined the membership after three seasons with Barca, offers firepower up prime.


Christian Eriksen

30 years outdated, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

Christian Eriksen

30 years outdated, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

Christian Eriksen

30 years outdated, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

However it’s exhausting to consider a participant with a extra compelling story in Qatar than the 30-year-old Eriksen. Denmark’s crew physician mentioned the playmaker was “gone” after going into cardiac arrest on the European Championship in June 2021 earlier than being resuscitated on the sphere. Eriksen, who was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker, marked his return with Premier League membership Brentford six months later, scored two minutes into his first match again for Denmark in March, then signed with Manchester United this summer time. A wholesome Eriksen — along with his artful footwork, immaculate set-piece service and imaginative and prescient to unlock defenses — elevates Denmark from undermanned underdog to dark-horse contender.

4 years after successful its first sport on the World Cup since 1978, Tunisia will look to beat the chances and advance lastly past the group stage.


Tunisia was a part of France till 1956, and it didn’t qualify for a World Cup till Argentina 1978.

Tunisia was a part of France till 1956, and it didn’t qualify for a World Cup till Argentina 1978.

Tunisia was a part of France till 1956, and it didn’t qualify for a World Cup till Argentina 1978.

After qualifying for 3 straight World Cups from 1998 to 2006, then lacking out on back-to-back tournaments, the Tunisians marked their return 4 years in the past in Russia with losses to England and Belgium and a 2-1 win over Panama. That have on the World Cup stage, nevertheless, hasn’t translated to a lot success regionally: Since successful the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, Tunisia has made it previous the quarterfinals simply as soon as in 9 appearances (a fourth-place end in 2019). The Eagles of Carthage punched their ticket to Qatar by topping Mali, 1-0 on combination, within the remaining spherical of Africa’s World Cup qualifying marketing campaign.


Coach

Jalel Kadri

50 years outdated

Coach Jalel Kadri can rely on Lorient defender Montassar Talbi to anchor a again line that allowed simply two objectives in eight qualifiers. That unit additionally consists of left again Ali Maâloul, who plies his commerce for Egypt’s Al Ahly. Ferjani Sassi, a midfielder for Qatar’s Al-Duhail, units the tempo, whereas captain Youssef Msakni — who additionally performs in Qatar, for Al-Arabi — is a menace up entrance.


Wahbi Khazri

31 years outdated, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

Wahbi Khazri

31 years outdated, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

Wahbi Khazri

31 years outdated, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

To spring an upset or two, Tunisia will most likely want an influential World Cup from Wahbi Khazri. The 31-year-old signed with Montpellier this summer time after netting 24 objectives in 4 Ligue 1 seasons with Saint-Étienne — together with a aim of the yr candidate when he struck from previous midfield towards Metz final October. And Khazri was Tunisia’s prime scorer with three tallies in World Cup qualifying.

No crew labored more durable to clinch its spot on the World Cup: Australia will arrive in Qatar after navigating a grueling 20-game qualifying slate that featured two group phases, a regional playoff and an intercontinental playoff.


Australia

within the World Cup

This will likely be a fifth consecutive World Cup look for Australia, having solely as soon as made it out of the group stage.

 

Australia

within the World Cup

This will likely be a fifth consecutive World Cup look for Australia, having solely as soon as made it out of the group stage.

Australia

within the World Cup

This will likely be a fifth consecutive World Cup look for Australia, having solely as soon as made it out of the group stage.

After qualifying for its first World Cup in 1974, Australia went greater than three a long time earlier than returning for the 2006 event, which marked the one time the Socceroos have superior past the group stage. This yr’s occasion represents the nation’s fifth straight journey to the World Cup, although that streak was very practically snapped. Australia slumped to 3rd place in Asia’s Group B with a 4-3-3 document, then topped the United Arab Emirates to earn Asia’s spot within the intercontinental playoff. There, Australia performed Peru to a scoreless draw earlier than triumphing on penalties.


Coach

Graham Arnold

59 years outdated

Graham Arnold, a former Australia assistant and interim coach who has held the full-time job since 2018, continues to lean on a variety of 30-something stalwarts. Amongst them: Sunderland middle again Bailey Wright, Celtic defensive midfielder Aaron Mooy and Melbourne Metropolis attacker Mathew Leckie. Additionally regulate Ajdin Hrustic, a 26-year-old playmaker who moved from Eintracht Frankfurt to Hellas Verona this summer time.


Matthew Ryan

30 years outdated, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

Matthew Ryan

30 years outdated, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

Matthew Ryan

30 years outdated, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

If Australia has any probability of advancing to the spherical of 16, it is going to want a sterling World Cup from captain and goalkeeper Matthew Ryan. The 30-year-old Copenhagen shot-stopper — whose résumé additionally consists of stints with Valencia, Brighton, Arsenal and Actual Sociedad, amongst others — seized the beginning function vacated by Australian legend Mark Schwarzer practically a decade in the past and has proven no indicators of loosening that grip.

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