World Cup 2022 preview: Group D

We take a closer look at Group D, featuring World Cup holders France, dark horses Denmark, optimistic Australia and in-form Tunisia.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 20 November 2022 - 2.49am
France World Cup

There is a familiar look to Group D of World Cup 2022. France, Denmark and Australia will be reacquainted having been in the same group four years ago in Russia, with the two European sides progressing into the knockout stages.

Many expect the outcome to be the same again, though Australia will hope to put up more of a fight after finishing bottom of the group in Russia.

Tunisia, meanwhile, will be aiming to spring a surprise or two after picking up some impressive results in the leadup to the tournament.

Here's how each team reached the finals, as well as insight into their best players, manager and strengths and weaknesses.

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Group D

France

France

FIFA ranking: 4th

Squad's top scorer: Olivier Giroud - 49 goals / 114 apps

World Cup qualifying position: 1st in Group D (UEFA)

Best World Cup finish: Winners (1998, 2018)

Route to qualification:

Despite their attacking talent, France somewhat flattered to deceive as despite topping their group, they only won five of their eight qualifiers, drawing the other three. 

Star man:

Playing frighteningly well for someone unhappy with his club, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is looking for back-to-back World Cups by the age of 23 and although he has looked more dangerous under Christophe Galtier than Didier Deschamps, don't be surprised if Mbappe rediscovers some of his verve on the international scene, especially as it falls smack bang in the middle of what's proving an extremely productive domestic season. 

Manager:

Deschamps has been scolded in many quarters for a cautious set-up that hasn't brought out the best of its component parts, and while he can point to being a World Cup-winning head coach and a 2021 Nations League winner, the most recent campaign in that competition was an abject failure as they finished a distant third in their group behind Denmark and Croatia. Improvement is required urgently. 

Strengths:

An absurd number of quality centre-backs means they are unlikely to struggle in this regard and while Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann all start in a strongest XI, Randal Kolo Muani, Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Thuram are all waiting in the wings, even after Karim Benzema's injury. Ridiculous. 

Weaknesses:

If Benjamin Pavard gets injured, there is no right-back or defensively minded Kingsley Coman capable of replicating his influence. The absences of N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba may also be keenly felt in a midfield that is immensely talented but largely unproven at a major tournament, with Aurelien Tchouameni likely to partner Real Madrid team-mate Eduardo Camavinga or Monaco's Youssouf Fofana. 

Kylian Mbappe - France

Australia

Australia

FIFA ranking: 38th

Squad's top scorer: Mathew Leckie - 13 goals / 73 apps

World Cup qualifying position: Inter-confederation play-off winners against Peru

Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (2006) 

 

Route to qualification:

As part of the Asian qualifying system, Australia breezed through their initial group before finishing a distant third to Japan and Saudi Arabia at the next phase.

Australia then won a play-off against the UAE thanks to a late winner from Ajdin Hrustic before facing another play-off against Peru, which saw goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne cement himself as the hero with his dancing antics and winning penalty shootout save that sent the team to Qatar.

Star man:

Aaron Mooy has previously impressed for Huddersfield and Brighton in the Premier League and is now a key part of Ange Postecoglou's side at Celtic. 

Manager:

Graham Arnold, who was capped 56 times by the Socceroos, didn't have the easiest start to his tenure as his men crashed out of the 2019 Asian Cup, but taking his country to what is their fifth successive World Cup is a notable achievement. 

Strengths:

Mooy links up well with fellow midfielders Jackson Irvine, formerly of Burton and Hull, and Riley McGree, now at Middlesbrough. 

Weaknesses:

They simply don't have the goalscorers to be a big threat in Group D and are not blessed with great pace either. 

Mathew Leckie - Australia

Denmark

Denmark

FIFA ranking: 10th

Squad's top scorer: Christian Eriksen - 39 goals / 117 apps

World Cup qualifying position: 1st in Group F (UEFA)

Best World Cup finish: Quarter-finals (1998)

Route to qualification:

Denmark looked on course to make it a perfect 10 wins from 10 from their qualifying group, but a 2-0 defeat to Scotland scuppered those hopes. Nevertheless, a very strong campaign. 

Star man:

Joakim Maehle's ability to offer a threat down the left as well as providing defensive stability makes him a key ingredient of Kasper Hjulmand's side. 

Manager:

Kasper Hjulmand took over the role in July 2020 and the team has improved under his tutelage, with highlights including a Nations League win against England two years ago, a run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals and a memorable double over France in the Nations League this year. 

Strengths:

The defence is rock solid, conceding just three goals in qualifying and also keeping clean sheets against England and France under Hjulmand, while the Champions League quality of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Christian Eriksen makes the Danes a dark horse to go all the way at this tournament. They also have recent experience of beating Les Bleus (twice). 

Weaknesses:

Despite scoring 30 times in their 10 qualifying matches, they don't have a reliable goalscorer in their ranks, while an injury to Maehle could be potentially problematic with no natural cover. 

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 25: Christian Eriksen of Denmark celebrates after the UEFA Nations League match between Denmark and France at Parken on September 25, 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images) 2022 Lars Ronbog
Christian Eriksen - Denmark

Tunisia

Tunisia

FIFA ranking: 30th

Squad's top scorer: Wahbi Khazri - 24 goals / 71 apps

World Cup qualifying position: Third-round play-off winners against Mali

Best World Cup finish: Group stage (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018)

Route to qualification:

Tunisia topped their inital qualifying group, by beating Mali 1-0 in a two-legged play-off courtesy of an own goal from Moussa Sissako. 

Star man:

Wahbi Khazri will be a name familiar to Sunderland fans. The 31-year-old now plays for Montpellier and is his country's biggest goal threat, with 24 in 71 caps. 

Manager:

Jalel Kadri replaced predecessor Mondher Kebaier midway through this year's AFCON in January and was named the permanent head coach despite bowing out in the quarter-finals to Burkina Faso. Oversaw the play-off success against Mali. 

Strengths:

Tunisia are very tough to break down, having conceded just twice in eight qualifying games.

Weaknesses:

The team aren't adventurous in attack as they were four years ago in Russia and struggle to create chances. 

Wahbi Khazri - Tunisia