Everything you need to know about Group D at the World Cup

France

Australia

Tunisia

Denmark

Australia

France

Denmark

Tunisia

France

Australia

Denmark

Tunisia

Australia

Denmark

Tunisia

France

When it comes to Group D at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the line dividing the haves and the have-nots is clear. Defending champion France and Denmark are ranked in FIFA’s top 10, and both nations boast rich soccer pedigrees that include major international titles. Tunisia and Australia, meanwhile, won’t be found anywhere in FIFA’s top 10 — or 20. All time, the countries have combined to play one World Cup knockout game.

Here’s a closer look at Group D, which kicks off Nov. 22 when France meets Australia and Denmark faces Tunisia.

France

No nation has repeated as World Cup champion since the Pelé-led Brazil teams of 1958 and 1962. Can Les Bleus snap that streak, 20 years after their only other title defense ended with a first-round exit? With Kylian Mbappé matured into a full-on superstar, Didier Deschamps’s squad certainly has the talent to win it all. But France’s depth will be tested after N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Paul Pogba (knee), Christopher Nkunku (knee) and reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema (quad) were ruled out with injuries.

France

in the World Cup

The defending World Cup champion will be seeking its third trophy in its 16th appearance.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

Brazil 0,

France 3

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

France 4,

Croatia 2

’10

’14

’18

France

in the World Cup

The defending World Cup champion will be seeking its third trophy in its 16th appearance.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

Brazil 0,

France 3

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

France 4,

Croatia 2

’10

’14

’18

France

in the World Cup

The defending World Cup champion will be seeking its third trophy in its 16th appearance.

Brazil 0,

France 3

France 4,

Croatia 2

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

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 home soil, Les Bleus went home winless four years later. A run to the 2006 final — which France lost to Italy after Zidane infamously was tossed for head-butting an opponent — was followed by another winless, first-round exit in 2010. But after advancing to the 2014 quarterfinals, France was the class of the tournament four years ago in Russia, rattling off a 6-0-1 record that included a comfortable 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.

The European Championship has proved elusive since France won in 2000 on the back of its World Cup crown. After surprisingly falling to Portugal at home in the Euro 2016 final, France suffered a stunning shootout loss to Switzerland in the Euro 2020 round of 16. There were no hiccups in 2022 World Cup qualifying, however, as the French went 5-0-3 to comfortably secure their ticket to Qatar. And France topped Spain in the final to win the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.

Coach

Didier

Deschamps

Projected lineup

T. Hernández

L. Hernandez

K. Mbappé

E. Camavinga

A. Griezmann

H. Lloris

R. Varane

A. Tchouaméni

O. Giroud

J. Kounde

B. Pavard

Coach

Didier Deschamps

Projected lineup

T. Hernández

L. Hernandez

K. Mbappé

E. Camavinga

A. Griezmann

H. Lloris

R. Varane

A. Tchouaméni

O. Giroud

J. Kounde

B. Pavard

Projected lineup

T. Hernández

L. Hernandez

K. Mbappé

E. Camavinga

A. Griezmann

H. Lloris

R. Varane

A. Tchouaméni

O. Giroud

J. Kounde

Coach

Didier Deschamps

54 years old

B. Pavard

The core that guided France to its second World Cup title is largely intact, starting with captain Hugo Lloris, now 35 and still a rock between the posts for Tottenham. Raphaël Varane, fresh off a $40 million move from Real Madrid to Manchester United, is a towering presence in the back. Antoine Griezmann, now 31 and back at Atlético Madrid (on loan from Barcelona), is past his prime but still led Les Bleus with six goals in qualifying. But the losses of Chelsea’s Kante, a sturdy defensive midfielder, and Juventus’s Pogba, an electric box-to-box presence, leave France with significant questions down the middle.

Deschamps was planning on turning to one world-class talent he didn’t have four years ago: Real Madrid striker Benzema. Ostracized because of his alleged role in a sex tape and blackmail scandal involving a former France teammate, Benzema was exiled from the French squad for more than five years before returning for last year’s European Championship. But after scoring a career-high 44 goals in all competitions during the 2021-22 campaign, Benzema was ruled out of the World Cup days before France’s opener with a quad injury suffered in training.

The star

Kylian Mbappé

23 years old, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

National

team stats

59

games

28

goals

The star

Kylian Mbappé

23 years old, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

National

team stats

59

games

28

goals

The star

Kylian Mbappé

23 years old, Paris, France

Paris Saint Germain

National team stats

28

59

goals

games

With Benzema sidelined, France will probably need another standout World Cup from Mbappé if it wants to defend its crown. Four years ago, a 19-year-old Mbappé took home the best young player award after notching four goals — including a tally in the final made him the only teenager other than Pelé accomplish that feat. In the intervening years, the now-23-year-old has posted four straight 30-goal campaigns for PSG. Electrifying on the ball and clinical in the opposing box, Mbappé has the makings of a future Ballon d’Or winner.

Denmark

A year after Denmark emerged as the sentimental favorite of Euro 2020 — enduring the trauma of playmaker Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in the group stage opener, then making an unlikely run to the semifinals — a recovered Eriksen and his Danish teammates head to Qatar knowing a lengthy stay isn’t out of the question.

Denmark

in the World Cup

While Denmark won a Euro in 1992, its appearances in the World Cup have been modest.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Denmark

in the World Cup

While Denmark won a Euro in 1992, its appearances in the World Cup have been modest.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Denmark

in the World Cup

While Denmark won a Euro in 1992, its appearances in the World Cup have been modest.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

The Danes didn’t qualify for a World Cup until 1986 but have since become regulars in soccer’s showcase event, punching a ticket to five of the past seven tournaments. They’ve only made it to the quarterfinals once, in 1998, and crashed out in the round of 16 four years with a shootout loss to eventual finalist Croatia.

The Euro 92 champions made a valiant run at their second European Championship title last year, topping Wales and the Czech Republic in the knockout round before falling to England in the semifinal. And they were downright dominant in World Cup qualifying, going 9-1-0 to win Group F and book a trip to Qatar.

Coach

Kasper

Hjulmand

Projected lineup

J. Maehle

P. Hojbjerg

M. Damsgaard

A. Christensen

K. Schmeichel

C. Eriksen

M. Braithwaite

J. Andersen

T. Delaney

A. Skov Olsen

R. Kristensen

Coach

Kasper Hjulmand

Projected lineup

J. Maehle

P. Hojbjerg

M. Damsgaard

A. Christensen

K. Schmeichel

C. Eriksen

M. Braithwaite

J. Andersen

T. Delaney

A. Skov Olsen

R. Kristensen

Projected lineup

J. Maehle

P. Hojbjerg

M. Damsgaard

A. Christensen

K. Schmeichel

C. Eriksen

M. Braithwaite

J. Andersen

T. Delaney

A. Skov Olsen

Coach

Kasper Hjulmand

50 years old

R. Kristensen

Denmark Coach Kasper Hjulmand — a former defender who played college soccer at North Florida — has a veteran-heavy squad at his disposal. That starts with Kasper Schmeichel, the 35-year-old goalkeeper who moved from Leicester City to Nice this summer 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 hold down the back line, while Sevilla’s Thomas Delaney and Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pull the strings in central midfield. Espanyol attacker Martin Braithwaite, who recently joined the club after three seasons with Barca, provides firepower up top.

The star

Christian Eriksen

30 years old, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

National team stats

117

39

games

goals

The star

Christian Eriksen

30 years old, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

National

team stats

117

games

39

goals

The star

Christian Eriksen

30 years old, Middelfart, Denmark

Manchester United

National team stats

39

117

goals

games

But it’s hard to think of a player with a more compelling story in Qatar than the 30-year-old Eriksen. Denmark’s team doctor said the playmaker was “gone” after going into cardiac arrest at the European Championship in June 2021 before being resuscitated on the field. Eriksen, who was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker, marked his return with Premier League club Brentford six months later, scored two minutes into his first match back for Denmark in March, then signed with Manchester United this summer. A healthy Eriksen — with his crafty footwork, immaculate set-piece service and vision to unlock defenses — elevates Denmark from undermanned underdog to dark-horse contender.

Tunisia

Four years after winning its first game at the World Cup since 1978, Tunisia will look to beat the odds and advance finally beyond the group stage.

Tunisia

in the World Cup

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

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Tunisia

in the World Cup

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

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Tunisia

in the World Cup

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

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

After qualifying for three straight World Cups from 1998 to 2006, then missing out on back-to-back tournaments, the Tunisians marked their return four years ago in Russia with losses to England and Belgium and a 2-1 win over Panama. That experience on the World Cup stage, however, hasn’t translated to much success regionally: Since winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, Tunisia has made it past the quarterfinals just once in nine appearances (a fourth-place finish in 2019). The Eagles of Carthage punched their ticket to Qatar by topping Mali, 1-0 on aggregate, in the final round of Africa’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

Coach

Jalel

Kadri

Projected lineup

A. Maaloul

E. Skhiri

W. Khazri

M. Talbi

A. Dahmen

F. Sassi

S. Jaziri

D. Bronn

A. Laidouni

Y. Msakni

M. Dräger

Coach

Jalel Kadri

Projected lineup

A. Maaloul

E. Skhiri

W. Khazri

M. Talbi

A. Dahmen

F. Sassi

S. Jaziri

D. Bronn

A. Laidouni

Y. Msakni

M. Dräger

Projected lineup

A. Maaloul

E. Skhiri

W. Khazri

M. Talbi

A. Dahmen

F. Sassi

S. Jaziri

D. Bronn

A. Laidouni

Y. Msakni

Coach

Jalel Kadri

50 years old

M. Dräger

Coach Jalel Kadri can count on Lorient defender Montassar Talbi to anchor a back line that allowed just two goals in eight qualifiers. That unit also includes left back Ali Maâloul, who plies his trade for Egypt’s Al Ahly. Ferjani Sassi, a midfielder for Qatar’s Al-Duhail, sets the tempo, while captain Youssef Msakni — who also plays in Qatar, for Al-Arabi — is a threat up front.

The star

Wahbi Khazri

31 years old, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

National team stats

71

24

goals

games

The star

Wahbi Khazri

31 years old, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

National

team stats

71

games

24

goals

The star

Wahbi Khazri

31 years old, Ajaccio, France

Montpellier Hérault SC

National team stats

24

71

goals

games

To spring an upset or two, Tunisia will probably need an influential World Cup from Wahbi Khazri. The 31-year-old signed with Montpellier this summer after netting 24 goals in four Ligue 1 seasons with Saint-Étienne — including a goal of the year candidate when he struck from past midfield against Metz last October. And Khazri was Tunisia’s top scorer with three tallies in World Cup qualifying.

Australia

No team worked harder to clinch its spot at the World Cup: Australia will arrive in Qatar after navigating a grueling 20-game qualifying slate that featured two group stages, a regional playoff and an intercontinental playoff.

Australia

in the World Cup

This will be a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance for Australia, having only once made it out of the group stage.

 

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

Not a FIFA

member

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Australia

in the World Cup

This will be a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance for Australia, having only once made it out of the group stage.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

Not a FIFA

member

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Australia

in the World Cup

This will be a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance for Australia, having only once made it out of the group stage.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA member

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

After qualifying for its first World Cup in 1974, Australia went more than three decades before returning for the 2006 tournament, which marked the only time the Socceroos have advanced beyond the group stage. This year’s event represents the nation’s fifth straight trip to the World Cup, though that streak was very nearly snapped. Australia slumped to third place in Asia’s Group B with a 4-3-3 record, then topped the United Arab Emirates to earn Asia’s spot in the intercontinental playoff. There, Australia played Peru to a scoreless draw before triumphing on penalties.

Coach

Graham

Arnold

Projected lineup

A. Behich

M. Leckie

K. Rowles

J. Irvine

M. Ryan

A. Mooy

M. Duke

B. Wright

A. Hrustic

N. Atkinson

M. Boyle

Coach

Graham Arnold

Projected lineup

A. Behich

M. Leckie

K. Rowles

J. Irvine

M. Ryan

A. Mooy

M. Duke

B. Wright

A. Hrustic

N. Atkinson

M. Boyle

Projected lineup

A. Behich

M. Leckie

K. Rowles

J. Irvine

M. Ryan

A. Mooy

M. Duke

B. Wright

A. Hrustic

Coach

Graham Arnold

59 years old

N. Atkinson

M. Boyle

Graham Arnold, a former Australia assistant and interim coach who has held the full-time job since 2018, continues to lean on a number of 30-something stalwarts. Among them: Sunderland center back Bailey Wright, Celtic defensive midfielder Aaron Mooy and Melbourne City attacker Mathew Leckie. Also keep an eye on Ajdin Hrustic, a 26-year-old playmaker who moved from Eintracht Frankfurt to Hellas Verona this summer.

The star

Matthew Ryan

30 years old, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

National team stats

74

69

goals conceded

games

The star

Matthew Ryan

30 years old, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

National

team stats

74

games

69

goals

conceded

The star

Matthew Ryan

30 years old, Plumpton, Australia

F.C. Copenhagen

National team stats

69

74

goals conceded

games

If Australia has any chance of advancing to the round of 16, it will need a sterling World Cup from captain and goalkeeper Matthew Ryan. The 30-year-old Copenhagen shot-stopper — whose résumé also includes stints with Valencia, Brighton, Arsenal and Real Sociedad, among others — seized the starting role vacated by Australian legend Mark Schwarzer nearly a decade ago and has shown no signs of loosening that grip.

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