Finally at the halfway point of the status checks for every World Cup team and group. With the interesting developments in the World Cup this year, we may have the most predictable group here in Group D, featuring France, Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia.
Denmark: The True Dark Horses
We hear the term “dark horse” thrown around often when tournaments come around, but of all teams being deemed as one in Qatar, Denmark is the strongest. A great squad, a good coach, and excellent form can make for a deep run if all other draws go their way.
Now, speaking beyond the group stage is not productive for these status checks but for a football fan who enjoys watching good teams succeed, Denmark is very hard to ignore. Following their shock in Euros 2020, they came back stronger, rallying behind Christian Eriksen and putting together some of the best performances in Europe. They had a great run in the Nations League against tough opponents and beyond Eriksen, they have quality absolutely everywhere with hardly any holes in the squad.
There is very little to go off of for Tunisia except for the fact that any team being put in a group with France and Denmark was done wrong by the football gods. Australia as an added detail doesn’t help either and the squad does feature many big names from 2018 but I’d be doing a disservice to the team if I acted like I knew this team in and out. The one very exciting thing about the squad is seeing Manchester United youngster Hannibal Mejbri show out on the big stage.
The French Elephant in the Room
No, this won’t be about football, their quality, performances, squad selection, or coach, but about luck.
If you have been following World Cup history since 2002, you know that something about a European champion in the competition has the most rancid connotations in sports. France crashed out of the groups in 2002 after winning in 1998, Brazil brushed past the curse after winning in 2002 but 2006 champions Italy also lost in the first round in 2010. Spain won that summer but fizzled out of the group stage in 2014, where Germany would win and then fly out of Russia in dramatic fashion only three games in. This is more than football or anything you and I know to be a factor in the sport. This is a sick game that no level of analysis could explain.
Australia’s A for Effort
Curses aside and hopefully being correct about it ending this World Cup, Australia very well may have just undergone one of the most hectic playoff qualifications for Qatar just to be put with two of the strongest sides in the world.
The team is also a little bit more unknown than in past iterations but if anything is guaranteed in life after 2010 it’s death, taxes, and Australia popping up in a World Cup while giving us some of the most entertaining moments and matches of the tournament. Like always, they’ll have everyone’s support but they will be looking to beat out the pity support and really make something of this World Cup.