After years of waiting, the FIFA World Cup returns to our screens as the greatest spectacle in sport hits the Middle East this Sunday. The fact that the competition is being held in Qatar isn’t exactly sitting well with the majority of fans and pundits out there, but there has still been an attempt from the masses to forget about all of that in favour of what we all know and love – the beautiful game.
Eight groups of four teams are set to compete in the final World Cup before the capacity is extended from 32 to 48 in 2026. The expectation is that we’ll see a whole lot of unpredictable scorelines, goals and potentially career-changing performances, but in reality, most folks just want Qatar’s effort to go off without too many problems.
We can’t picture a scenario in which that happens but for the sake of keeping the peace, we’re going to look towards the actual football that’ll be played over the course of the next month or so.
Today, our focus is on Group D that will include a whole host of teams that have played each other before on the big stage – Denmark, France, Tunisia and Australia. Based on the nature of the draw and how things have panned out thus far, it’s not insane to think this one has a lot of making up to do in order to not be as underwhelming as many expect.
Denmark are known for being a team that can give just about anyone a tough game on their best day and at the Euros last summer, they proved that by making it all the way through to the semi-finals of the tournament. They did so after losing Christian Eriksen to a heartbreaking injury and this time around, we’d say at least the quarters will be the goal.
They serve as a really hard nation to break down and when put in a group like this, there’s no reason whatsoever why they shouldn’t see it as a huge opportunity to perhaps go on and actually finish top – depending on the form of their nearest rivals, that is.
Les Bleus are the reigning world champions and because of that, we’re all forced to take them seriously. They have the kind of strength in depth that most countries could only dream of but of course, that isn’t going to mean a thing if they aren’t able to string it all together with some actual chemistry on the pitch.
Their disappointing exit from the Euros in 2021 will give them the kind of push and motivation they need to really kick on in the World Cup. After all, they are there to defend their title, and they certainly have the resources necessary to do so successfully.
For just the sixth time, and the second consecutive World Cup, Tunisia will be representing their continent on the big stage. They tend to fair quite well in the AFCON whenever they compete and heading into a tournament like this, their one primary goal will be to prove they can stay composed against the big boys.
Their best bet, at least in that regard, is going to stem from their ability to stay tight at the back. Set pieces will offer up a big opportunity for them in terms of scoring their own goals but we know them to be a defensively sound side, and they need to maintain that reputation.
Australia played two of the three teams in this group just four years ago at the last World Cup and because of that, you’d have to imagine they’ll be better prepared for what their rivals have in store. They aren’t going to be the nation that plays the most attractive football but with very low expectations behind them, it’s exciting to think they could at least make an effort to spring some surprises.
They have a few familiar faces within their ranks which is always nice to see and based on some of the feelings within their camp, we think they’ll be able to push the two favourites all the way in the race for a place in the last 16.
Prediction: France – 1st, Denmark – 2nd, Australia – 3rd, Tunisia – 4th