How will Group D play out in the 2022 World Cup
Part 4 of a series
With the 2022 World Cup set to begin on Nov. 20, there are teams from each of the eight groups poised to leave their mark on the tournament.
This group leaves plenty of debate to be discussed once the first match between Denmark and Tunisia kicks off on Nov. 22.
First Place: Denmark
Denmark is clearly the most likely dark horse to make a deep run in this year’s World Cup.
After losing to Croatia on penalties during the Round of 16 in Russia 2018, the Danes have made significant progress heading into Qatar 2022. They performed inspiringly on their road to the semifinals of Euro 2021 before falling 2-1 to England in extra time.
They also cruised past their opponents in the qualifying group, getting nine wins in 10 matches while scoring an astounding 30 goals and conceding only three in the process.
Denmark will take comfort in having Kasper Schmeichel and Simon Kjaer to lead the defense as both have abundant experience in international tournaments. Also expect Andreas Skov Olsen, who scored a team-high five goals in the qualifiers, to play an important role on offense.
And how inspirational would it be for Christian Eriksen to lead this team to monumental success. After nearly suffering from heart failure during Euro 2021, the midfield playmaker has made a complete recovery, getting back in top form. If he were to help the team go deep in Qatar, that would be an awesome comeback story that people would talk about for a long time.
Second Place: France
As the defending World Cup champions, France has their work cut out for them.
The French have been on a roller-coaster since winning the tournament in 2018.
Their highs were winning the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League and their lows saw them lose in the Round of 16 to Switzerland in a penalty shootout at the 2021 European Championship.
France got through the qualifying cycle rather comfortably. They topped their group by going undefeated in eight matches with great defense, only allowing three goals against Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Unfortunately, losing two key starters to injury – midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante – will cause France’s time in this group to be difficult, especially against a well-balanced team in Denmark.
Third Place: Australia
Australia will have a chance to make some noise in this group.
Finishing at the bottom of Group C against France, Denmark, and Peru in the 2018 edition, the Aussies knew that retooling the squad was necessary to help them compete for more than a group stage exit the next around.
Australia’s retooling worked, even if it took more games than expected. They finished third in their group during the third and final round of qualifying from Asia. That forced them to survive two playoff matches to clinch their spot in the tournament.
After handily dealing with the United Arab Emirates in the first match, the Aussies had to take on Peru in a rematch from 2018. This time, they claimed the win in a thriller of a penalty shootout, edging out the Peruvians 5-4 in style.
How far Australia goes will depend on how they perform against Tunisia, but then they’ll if need to escape with a draw against either Denmark or France. Other than that, they will be a wild card.
Fourth Place: Tunisia
This group will be tough for Tunisia to get out of.
Settling for third place in Group G for the 2018 edition, Tunisia maintained their success throughout 2022’s qualifying cycle.
They did not have much difficulty in their group during the second round of African qualifiers, winning four of their six matches while conceding just two goals.
In the final round that involved two matches against an up-and-coming Mali squad, the Tunisians escaped with a 1-0 aggregate victory to punch their ticket for back-to-back World Cups.
What Tunisia will need in this group is a certified goalscorer. Wahbi Khazri, who scored the most goals qualifying (3), will look to maintain that form as one of the more experienced forwards on the team.
While it’s possible for Tunisia to steal a win from Australia, their inferior talent against France and Denmark would prevent them from finishing any higher than third place in this group.