2022 World Cup Previews: Defending champs France and Denmark Lead Group D

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is upon us, albeit five months later than it usually comes. Despite the delay, we are now oh so close to the month of the greatest soccer in the world as the 32 biggest countries in the sport go at it for the coveted Jules Rimet trophy. In Group D, the 2018 World Cup champions, France, start their title defense against Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia.

Group D kicks off on November 22 and features six matches that will include the team trying to repeat, teams protesting the host country, a team that might not make it to Qatar, and one called the “Socceroos.”

With that as the backdrop, let’s take a look at what you need to know about Group D.

World Cup Group D Logistics: Who’s in the Group, and when are the matches?

Before the 2022 World Cup knockout stage kicks off on December 3, Group D will play a round-robin tournament where each team plays the other once. Here are the dates that France, Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia go at it:

  • Denmark vs. Tunisia, November 22
  • France vs. Australia, November 22
  • France vs. Denmark, November 26
  • Australia vs. Tunisia, November 26
  • Tunisia vs. France, November 30
  • Australia vs. Denmark, November 30

The teams get three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. The top two teams with the most points at the end of the three matches will advance to the knockout rounds.

Now that we have the schedule of matches let’s look at the squads that make up Group D.

France looks to go back-to-back for the first time since Brazil in 1958, 1962

Two countries have won two World Cup titles in eight years. This includes Brazil (1994, 2002) and Argentina (1978, 1986), but no nation has repeated since Pele’s Brazil teams in the late 50s and early 60s.

Headed into the 2022 World Cup, France is the No. 4 ranked team in the world. They are still a loaded squad, too, with the majority of 2018’s World Cup-winning squad coming back for another run in Qatar.

The recently-crowned 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) will be on the team, as will 23-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain). Other well-known players that will be wearing The Blues in Qatar include goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), defender William Saliba (Arsenal), midfielder Paul Pogba (Juventus), and forward Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid).

France should cruise through the group, and if they can avoid the inner-squad drama that often hampers the team at international tournaments, they have a real chance to repeat.

Denmark will play in Qatar with protest-themed kits

Denmark is ranked No. 10 overall heading into the 2022 World Cup, and it won its UEFA qualifying group with relative ease, with a 9-1 record.

The country struggled in Euro 2020, but a lot of that was due to the incredibly scary moment when the team’s biggest star, Christian Eriksen (Manchester United), went into cardiac arrest on the field.

Eriksen has made a full recovery and is now leading a team of talented, high-end European players into battle in Qatar. In addition to the United star, other players fans will recognize for the Danes include Kasper Schmeichel (Nice), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham), and Kasper Dolberg (Sevilla).

Despite the talent, this tournament will once again be stressful for the Danes as the country and team are one of the leading protestors criticizing host country Qatar’s inhumane treatment of the migrant workers who built the 2022 World Cup facilities.

The team will wear monotone red, white, and black kits with no sponsor (Hummel) on them, and players’ wives and girlfriends will not attend so as not to support the Qatar economy.

Australia is also protesting the host country

The team with the best nickname in the 2022 World Cup, Australia’s “Socceroos,” are the lowest-ranked team in Group D at No. 34. They don’t have much of a chance to come out of the Group this year, but they are always fun to watch.

The Socceroos in Qatar are young, especially in the midfield and on defense, with defenders Harry Souttar (Stoke City, 23) and Kye Rowles (Hearts, 24) and midfielders Connor Metcalf (St. Pauli, 22) and Riley McGree (Middlesbrough, 23).

Like Denmark, the tea will also go to Qatar under protest. The team recently made a video calling “on Qatar to recognize same-sex relationships and improve the rights of migrant workers,” per CNN.

The protest won’t likely affect their performance, but, as they say, down under, good on ya for making a stand.

Tunisia might not even make it to the 2022 World Cup

The Tunisian national team might not have a lot of household names, but they are one of the most successful African and Arab countries in World Cup history. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the country’s sixth World Cup. In their first World Cup in 1978, Tunisia beat Mexico to become the first African and Arab nation to win a game in the tournament.

The current roster likely doesn’t have any players fans are familiar with, but it does include players who play professionally in over a dozen different countries. Goalkeeper Bechir Ben Saïd (US Monastir) and striker Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier) are the team’s biggest stars.

Tunisia could shock a Group D team if given a chance. However, right now, FIFA is threatening to ban the team from the coming tournament due to government involvement in the Tunisia football federation, per ESPN.

2022 World Cup Group D prediction: France and Denmark Advance

(L-R) Christian Eriksen of Denmark and Kylian Mbappe of France headline the 2022 World Cup Group D
(L-R) Christian Eriksen, Kylian Mbappe | Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Image; Stefan Matzke – sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

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France is the best team in Group D, hands down. They will move on and have their biggest challenge in the knockout round. Behind them, Denmark is clearly the second best and will move on as well.

France vs. Denmark will be the match of the group, and if Denmark can come away with three points, it may signal Denmark is poised for a better-than-expected finish, and France might be on the opposite track.

The final group D standings will be:

  1. France
  2. Denmark
  3. Australia
  4. Tunisia

There are the Group D predictions. Now let’s see what happens when the teams face off in Qatar.

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