The first shocker of the group stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been delivered to fans as Australia joined France in progressing to the knockout rounds from Group D.
The Socceroos came into the group with the biggest handicap, having only qualified through playoffs. Grouped with 2018 World Cup winners France, 2022 World Cup dark horses Denmark and Tunisia, whose path to the tournament was filled with amazing performances, they looked to be the worst team of the lot.
The tournament started as expected with them losing 4 - 1 to France in their opening match. It is also one of the heaviest losses any team suffered in the group stages of the ongoing tournament. However, they got the opening goal in that game and it showed a glimpse of what they could provide to the tournament.
They shook off the heavy loss to the defending champions to secure impressive hard-fought wins against Tunisia and Denmark to snatch Group D’s second knockout round ticket. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has delivered quite a few shockers, but none is as shocking as Denmark missing out on the knockout rounds.
The Danes were billed as dark horses to win the tournament after their impressive performance in the 2020 UEFA European Championships. Kasper Hjulmand’s side also put in strong shifts in the ongoing UEFA Nations League tournament, giving the world the impression that they could be a surprise favourite at the World Cup.
Australia, as it stands, look to be the only team from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who will take part in the 2022 World Cup knockout rounds. Tunisia, meanwhile, will take solace in their victory against France in their last Group D game as Senegal continues to wait on another African team to join them in the knockout rounds.
France complete phase one of title defence
France have completed the first phase of their 2018 title defence after topping Group D with two wins and a loss. Les Bleus fielded their second-string team against Tunisia, who needed only a win and a Denmark draw against Australia to make it out of the group. Tunisia capitalised on the absence of the bigwigs to snatch a 1 - 0 victory but Denmark were unable to provide the result they needed.
France started the game on the front foot as you would expect, but their second string showed exactly why they are not trusted to start games of this magnitude just yet for the team. Poor finishing characterised most of the game for France, despite dominating the entirety of the game. Tunisia, who only managed five shots, scored with one of them to seal a famous victory.
Denmark, on the other hand, were the disappointment of the group after their impressive pre-tournament run. One goal in three games is all they managed as they crashed out of the group thanks to losses to France and Australia. They will feel hard done by the outcome of their outing because they were defensively solid. Unfortunately, they could not deliver on the action end of the pitch.
France will face the runners-up and Australia will face the winners of Group C, which has Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Mexico. Group C could also produce another shocking outcome, but France look to have a relatively easy route to the quarter-finals as they aim to be only the third team in history to win back-to-back World titles