November 16, 2022 12:17 AM
Alex Lawes

2022 FIFA World Cup Predictions: Group D

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FIFA ranking: 4

FIFA World Cup appearances: 16th Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Winners (1998, 2018)

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Captain: Hugo Lloris

France are a strange team. They have a squad that boasts, quite simply, some of the best talent in the world and it could easily be argued they have the best squad in the tournament. They won the previous edition of the UEFA Nations League and, most importantly, come into this tournament as the reigning world champions… and yet, something is just a bit off.

The controversial recall of Karim Benzema ahead of UEFA Euro 2020 has gone relatively smoothly and Los Blancos’ captain is now the Ballon d’Or holder, despite an indifferent start to the 2022/23 season. His relationship with Kylian Mbappe has been questioned due to comments made about Mbappe’s decision to stay at PSG in the summer. There was a major fall out between players’ families after their penalty shootout exit to Switzerland in the Round of 16 at UEFA Euro 2020 and you can never really judge the harmony of a French squad.

Les Bleus switched to a back three for that aforementioned UEFA Nations League triumph but reverted back to a back four this summer and Autumn as they endured a very difficult defence of their title. They managed just one win out of six in a group that consisted of Austria, Croatia and their FIFA World Cup group stage opponents, Denmark.

In fact, Denmark, who have been one of the best sides in Europe over the last two years, did the double over France and will be confident of finishing above them in this group. Whilst that seems possible, the magic of France’s key attackers can never be dismissed so they could easily do doubters wrong in a major way. However, if they are Group D runners’ up then a tough Round of 16 test against Argentina could be on the cards.

That was their Round of 16 tie in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and they won it 4-3. The two teams are in very different situations this time around, though.

TSZ Prediction: Round of 16


FIFA ranking: 38

FIFA World Cup appearances: Sixth Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Round of 16 (2006)

Manager: Graham Arnold

Captain: Mat Ryan

Australia were disappointing in AFC’s third round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification in what was a tough group alongside Saudi Arabia and Japan. However, they needed a late winner to see off the United Arab Emirates in the AFC playoff and then held on for a goalless draw to defeat Peru on penalties in the intercontinental playoff.

The Socceroos nullified a strong Peruvian side and did show a bit of threat on the counter attack but it has to be argued this is probably the weakest side that Australia have sent to a FIFA World Cup.

There is still some quality with the likes of Mat Ryan, Aaron Mooy and Jackson Irvine but they will be reliant on forwards such as Mathew Leckie and Awer Mabil hitting form at the right time, as well as Scotland-born forward duo Martin Boyle and Jason Cummings.

One man to keep an eye on is 19 year-old forward Garang Kuol. The Egyptian-born winger has grabbed headlines for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League and he has already agreed to a pre-contract that seems him join Newcastle United in January.

TSZ Prediction: Group stage


FIFA ranking: 10

FIFA World Cup appearances: Sixth Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Quarter-finals (1998)

Manager: Kasper Hjulmand

Captain: Simon Kjaer

Over the last few years, the Danish national side have been one of the very best teams in Europe, both in terms of their performances and their results.

Under the management of Kasper Hjulmand, they went into UEFA Euro 2020 tipped up as one of the ‘dark horses’ and, despite the near tragedy of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest, they reached the semi-final of the tournament. They followed that up by becoming the first European side to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, winning nine-in-a-row before a much-changed side were beaten in Glasgow by Scotland in a must-win game for the hosts.

The Red and Whites enjoyed an impressive UEFA Nations League campaign earlier this year and defeated their group stage opponents for this World Cup, France, both home and away.

Their squad continues to boast players from top teams in top leagues throughout Europe and, unlike their run to the semis just last summer, they will now be blessed with their most potent attacking threat in the returning Eriksen.

Denmark will be confident of getting through the group and, given their results against them earlier this year, they will fancy themselves finishing above France and going far into the tournament.

TSZ Prediction: Quarter-finals


FIFA ranking: 30

FIFA World Cup appearances: Sixth Entry

FIFA World Cup best: Groups (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018)

Manager: Jalel Kadri

Captain: Youssef Msakni

Ahead of the tournament, Tunisia head coach Jalel Kadri announced that he would resign from his post if Tunisia fail to make it out of the group stages so either he is a very confident man or he has other plans in January already.

The Eagles of Carthage returned to the FIFA World Cup in 2018 after a two-tournament absence and they were knocked out in the group stages, but did manage to win their final match against Panama; that seems like a similar fate as to what may be in store this time around with Australia their last match of the group.

Last time around they were missing captain and key man Youssef Msakni due to injury but he is ready and raring to go alongside the ever-present Wahbi Khazri, who is always a worthwhile threat, especially from set-pieces.

Their most recent outing was a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Brazil in Paris in a friendly at the end of September and that is a fair indication of where they stand. In a group with Denmark and France, it would be extremely surprising to see the Tunisia reach the knockout stages.

TSZ Prediction: Group stage

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