Group D Preview – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Will France win it again?

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Kylian Mbappe celebrates France's World Cup triumph in 2018

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The matches in Group D will be fraught with drama and excitement on and off the pitch. France enters the competition as the World Champions and is looking to become the first country to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962. We could witness a Danish fairytale with Christian Eriksen back on the field in a major competition after suffering a cardiac arrest last summer. Plus, it’s Tunisia and its passionate fans who are well known for showing their love for the team both home and away.

KARIM SAHIB/AFP or licensorsEducation City Stadium will host two games in Group DKARIM SAHIB/AFP or licensors

Group D Dates, (Local) Times and Locations

Tuesday, November 22nd

16:00 Denmark v Tunisia – Education City Stadium

22:00 France v Australia/Peru/UAE – Al Janoub Stadium

Saturday, November 26th

13:00 Tunisia v Australia/Peru/UAE – Al Janoub Stadium

19:00 France v Denmark – Stadium 974

Wednesday, November 30th

18:00 Tunisia v France – Education City Stadium

18:00 Australia/Peru/UAE v Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium

World Cup Winners’ View

In 1998 France won the World Cup. Frank Leboeuf helped keep the superstar of that time, Ronaldo, quiet as the Zinedine Zidane inspired French team beat Brazil 3-0 in the final. Controlling the midfield and leading the team was skipper Didier Deschamps who has an almost unparalleled success rate as both player and manager.

Deschamps as a player:

1 World Cup

1 European Championship

1 Champions League

3 Serie A Titles

2 French Titles

Deschamps as a Manager:

1 World Cup

1 Nations League

1 European Championship Runners-Up

1 French Title

Francisco Seco/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reservedDidier Deschamps after leading France to World Cup glory in 2018Francisco Seco/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Frank Leboeuf was Didier Deschamps’ Chelsea and France teammate and believed he was always destined to become a top coach.

“Didier’s a real leader. He was sure to become a coach. He was born for that. He works hard. He feels the football, and he’s also a bit lucky! He has all the talent to get another World Cup for the national team.” Frank explained to Football Now.

Any international manager would undoubtedly feel a bit lucky to have the talent of Kylian Mbappe in their squad. At just 23 years old, he is well on course to becoming France’s all-time leading goalscorer. The Paris St-Germain forward has already won a World Cup trophy and has 54 caps under his belt. So, is it too much to pin the hopes of the French nation on one man?

“Mbappe won the World Cup four years ago, and he’s better than four years ago, and of course, France is one of my favourites”, said Frank Leboeuf. “He’s the most entertaining player. The MVP, as Americans say. We’re still far away from the World Cup.

He will have to secure his future, whether it’s going to be for Real Madrid or staying at PSG, or going to another club. He will have to secure that and the sooner the better because in your mind it does something. So, hopefully, he’s going to decide very quickly.

Frank Leboeuf

French World Cup Winner, 1998

The Danish Fairytale

Football fans will never forget when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on June 12th, 2021, during Denmark’s European Championship game against Finland. Five hundred and twenty-eight days later, it is nothing short of a miracle that he could turn out for Denmark against Tunisia on November 22nd in what is sure to be an emotional occasion at Education City Stadium.

Since collapsing in Copenhagen, Danish superstar Eriksen has returned to the Premier League and is already impressing at his new club Brentford. The club’s correspondent for ‘The Athletic’ Jay Harris spoke to Football Now and told us, “I don’t think anybody seriously thought he’d ever play football again. So, the fact that he’s been able to return to playing football at the top level and perform as well as he has done is nothing short of a miracle. Thomas Frank, Brentford’s coach, even called it an ongoing fairytale, and I think that’s kind of the best description of it.

He’ll be 30 at this tournament. So you would expect it’s probably going to be his last tournament where he’s perhaps truly in his prime. It’s going to be an incredible experience for him.”

Peter Dejong/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reservedChristian Eriksen shows his delight after his goal in AmsterdamPeter Dejong/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Threat of Tunisia

Tunisia is in danger of going under the radar, with high-profile teams such as France and Denmark in the group. However, with a large local community of Tunisians residing in Doha and many more thousands set to make the trip south to Qatar, they will be hard to ignore at the start of the competition. They have experience of competing in Qatar after reaching the sem-finals of the Arab Cup in 2021.

Their World Cup experience leaves a lot to be desired. They won their first World Cup match back in 1978, but it was 40 years until their next win during the tournament when they beat Panama in Russia four years ago.

Darko Bandic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reservedManchester United’s Hannibal Mejbri could be a key player for TunisiaDarko Bandic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Tunisia will be hoping to upset the two fancied teams from Europe. Group D could turn out to provide the winner of the competition itself – but for many, the moment of the World Cup will be if Christian Eriksen can step onto the field at any point in the competition. After a remarkable ten months since that evening in Copenhagen, you wouldn’t bet against him.

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