France Trace History with Australia and Denmark as Unlikely Landmines

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup Group D has France, Australia, Denmark and Tunisia with the group phase being played from 20 November to 2 December.

France Analysis and Prediction

France have the chance to do something that has not been done in six decades- to defend a FIFA World Cup title.

Since Brazil won back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1962, the defending champions have always come up short at the following tournament. But if anyone can, Les Blues has the best prospects.

Such is the talent at their disposal in every department that anything seems possible for France. Led by their captain Hugo Lloris, who could become the country’s most capped player of all time in Qatar, France can count on several of the world’s best players, among them Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele. Add to the youngsters like Aurelien Tchouameni, Christopher Nkunku, William Saliba and Jules Kounde, and France have some serious depth.

Topping the group may just be a formality but winning the whole thing is their prerogative.

France Squad

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

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Axel Disasi (AS Monaco), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (AS Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Olympique de Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Olympique de Marseille).

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Moenchengladbach).

Australia Analysis and Prediction

Australia head to a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup in Qatar but will have measured expectations given their previous record in the finals. Having the unenviable record of failing to win any of their six matches at the last two World Cups, supporters and experts don’t rate the Socceroos highly.

But if the qualifiers are anything to go by, where they played 14 of their 18 preliminary matches overseas and manage hard-fought wins over the United Arab Emirates and Peru. The squad has banded together without big names in their ranks and lower expectations driving them on.

It will not be easy to navigate past the group stage but Australia will look to be a hard team to beat on their day.

Australia Squad

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

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

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

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

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Denmark Analysis and Prediction

Although they lack the pedigree of the game’s giants, Denmark have progressed beyond the group stage in all but one of their five World Cup appearances to date. The Danes, in 2018, were pipped on penalties by Croatia in the last 16, and the Nordic outfit are now aiming to set a new benchmark at Qatar 2022.

After that came EURO 2020, where they somehow recovered from the trauma of their star player Christian Eriksen’s on-field cardiac arrest in the opening match to enjoy a goal-laden run to the semi-finals.

Even more impressive was their form in World Cup qualifying, with a place at Qatar 2022 secured with a couple of games to spare – and without a point having been dropped or a goal conceded. Add to that two UEFA Nations League wins over the world champions in the space of just four months, and it’s easy to see why the Danes are being discussed as potential title contenders.

Going through from the group may be achieved without much fuss but the real challenge will lie in the knockouts from Denmark.

Denmark Squad

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

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

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

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

Tunisia Analysis and Prediction

Tunisia are participating in their sixth World Cup but what sets them apart is the fact that they are the first African team to win a World Cup match. In 1978, the Carthage Eagles defeated Mexico 3-1 as the seminal moment led to an increased number of African teams participating in the tournament.

Then followed a 20-year absence, during which many other Arab and African teams thrived. From the turn of the century, World Cup participation has become the norm for Tunisia with appearances in 2002 and 2006. At the last edition, the Carthage Eagles returned to the big stage and celebrate with another win.

At Qatar 2022, things will not be so simple as Tunisia would face strong challenges from their group and getting another win may be their zenith.

Tunisia Squad

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

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

Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Ghaylane Chaalali (both Esperance), Aissa Laidouni (Ferencvaros), Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City), Ferjani Sassi (Al Duhail), Elyas Skhiri (FC Cologne).

Forwards: Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby), Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek), Issam Jebali (Odense), Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Naim Sliti (Al Ittifaq).

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Group D Fixtures

Denmark vs Tunisia: 22 November, 18:30 IST, Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

France vs Australia: 23 November, 00:30 IST, Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Tunisia vs Australia: 26 November, 15:30 IST, Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

France vs Denmark: 26 November, 21:30 IST, Stadium 974, Doha

Australia vs Denmark:30 November, 20:30 IST, Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Tunisia vs France: 30 November, 20:30 IST, Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

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