Socceroos’ World Cup Group D preview: The challenges, the alternatives, and the gamers to observe

Socceroos’ World Cup Group D preview: The challenges, the alternatives, and the gamers to observe


Whereas there are a lot of points which have consumed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar off the sector, from the local weather to considerations over migrant employees’ rights, to the security of the LGBTQIA+ neighborhood, there’s nonetheless, on the finish of the day, some soccer to be performed on it.After a prolonged and dramatic qualifying marketing campaign, the Socceroos discover themselves in Group D alongside France, Tunisia, and Denmark. So who’re their opponents, what are the foremost challenges, the place are the potential alternatives, and which gamers are those to observe over the following two weeks?Match Day 1: FranceWhen: November 23 at 6am AEDTWhere: Al Janoub Stadium, Al WakrahHead coach: Didier DechampsFIFA rating: 42018 World Cup outcome: ChampionsAnyone else experiencing deja vu?For the second consecutive World Cup finals, Australia will play their opening group-stage match towards France.The distinction this time, although, is that Les Bleus are reigning champions, and are extensively anticipated to achieve the sharp finish of the event as soon as once more given the heft of expertise at their disposal. France defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the 2018 males’s World Cup on dwelling soil. In Qatar, they’re hoping to make it two in a row.(AP: Martin Meissner)Spearheaded by a entrance three of PSG winger Kylian Mbappé, 2018 Bronze Ball and Silver Boot recipient Antoine Griezmann, and France’s lively main goalscorer Olivier Giroud (following the late withdrawal of newly topped Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema), France arguably have one of many deadliest attacking trios of any nation competing in Qatar.As an illustration of their squad depth, if one thing was to occur to one in all these beginning gamers, Dechamps may name on the likes of Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman, Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, and late call-up Marcus Thuram — son of Lilian, who gained the 1998 World Cup with France — to take their place.Their squad is simply as spectacular down the opposite finish of the sector.Dechamps has spent the previous few worldwide home windows experimenting with centre again pairings, however hasn’t but discovered his excellent mixture. Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano, Barcelona’s Jules Kounde, Arsenal’s William Saliba, PSG’s (now-injured) Presnel Kimpembe and his alternative Axel Disasi, Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate, and Manchester United’s Rafael Varane have all featured lately, although there are fewer pure fullbacks to select from in Benjamin Pavard, Theo Hernandez, and Lucas Hernandez.And thru the center, Actual Madrid’s Aurelien Tchouameni has been essentially the most persistently used central participant previously few months, however poorly timed accidents to N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba — each of whom had been instrumental within the group’s 2018 success however who will miss Qatar solely — have compelled Dechamps to experiment.Actual Madrid star Eduardo Camavinga, 19, has made the minimize, as have Juventus’ Adrien Rabiot, Marseille pair Jordan Veretout and Matteo Guendouzi, and Monaco’s Youssouf Fofana. However the shares stay noticeably skinny with an uncommon lack of expertise in addition to creatively minded, defence-breaking midfielders.This heavy rotation, in addition to the chopping and altering of formations, maybe explains France’s poor current run. They’ve gained simply one in all their previous six video games — a 2-0 win over Austria in September — and have, bizarrely, struggled to attain targets, with their final 2+ aim margin coming in March towards South Africa.France come into Qatar coping with their very own off-field dramas, too. There have been reported fallouts between gamers within the combine for Qatar, a feud between Mbappé and the French Soccer Federation (FFF) over picture rights, allegations of sexual harassment and abuse throughout the federation underneath the watch of its president Noël Le Graët, and an alleged extortion of Pogba by his brother Mathias and childhood buddies again in March.There may be additionally a little bit of a curse on World Cup winners, with simply two nations within the historical past of the event profitable back-to-back titles: Italy in 1934 and 1938, and Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Most of the time, reigning champions crash out early, as we noticed with Germany in 2018 after they gained the earlier version solely to complete lifeless final of their group.All the above may play into the Socceroos’ arms. France took some time to heat up in their 2018 marketing campaign and solely defeated Australia 2-1 in the opening recreation (and solely then due to an personal aim by Socceroos fullback Aziz Behich and a penalty transformed by Griezmann). The Socceroos put up a combat towards France within the opening group recreation of the 2018 World Cup. Might they do it once more?(AP: Pavel Golovkin)A slim 1-0 win over Peru and a 0-0 draw with Denmark was sufficient to see them via the group, after which they actually started exhibiting their high-pressing, bodily, and proactive model of possessive play.So whereas they give the impression of being formidable on paper, France could possibly be fairly a rustier prospect on the park; a possibility for the Socceroos to doubtlessly pounce upon.Staying defensively stable, profitable one-on-one battles, controlling area with out the ball, slicing off midfield passes to France’s ahead line, transitioning shortly, and maximising set items shall be key for Australia to doubtlessly safe a shock outcome.Match Day 2: TunisiaWhen: November 26 at 9pm AEDTWhere: Al Janoub Stadium, Al WakrahHead coach: Jalel KadriFIFA rating: 302018 World Cup outcome: Group stageFrom a group Australia are tremendous aware of to at least one they’ve solely met as soon as, the Socceroos’ subsequent group recreation comes towards Tunisia, who they final confronted all the way in which again in 2005.Regardless of fielding what many described as its “Golden Era” squad, with gamers like Mark Viduka, John Aloisi, Josip Skoko, Lucas Neill, Craig Moore and Tim Cahill, the Socceroos misplaced 2-0 that day — a reminder, maybe, that Tunisia is a nation we underestimate at our personal peril.Qatar shall be Tunisia’s sixth World Cup finals look, a event from which they’ve by no means made it previous the group stage. Like Australia, the African nation needed to navigate a continental play-off path to qualify for 2022, however solely simply scraping previous Mali 1-0 on mixture due to an personal aim from the opposition. Tunisia are one of many “minnows” of the 2022 World Cup and one of the best likelihood the Socceroos have to say three factors.(Getty Photographs: Andrew Surma/NurPhoto)Australian followers will not be as aware of Tunisia’s gamers as they’re with France and Denmark, however there are a few names to control who’ve been key for the group over the previous few years.The primary is their captain and highest-capped participant, winger Youssef Msakni, who at present plies his commerce with Al-Arabi in Qatar (a possible benefit with zero worldwide journey required for the 32-year-old). With 17 targets in 87 caps, Msakni and fellow striker Wahbi Khazri (24 targets in 71 video games), who leads the road for Montpellier in France, are Tunisia’s two deadliest goalscorers.However Tunisia’s energy actually lies of their defence. They’ve misplaced just one recreation by greater than a single aim since 2021, and have conceded simply twice of their previous eight World Cup qualifiers.Their formidable again line is anchored by Lorient centre again Montassar Talbi with a altering associate of Salernitana’s Dylan Bronn or Kuwait SC’s Bilel Ifa. And the pair is usually flanked by extremely skilled left again Ali Maâloul and proper again Mohamed Dräger.Head coach Jalel Kadri has been settled in a 4-3-3 formation with Tunisia since taking up at the beginning of this 12 months and has a well-drilled group which is snug out of possession and deadly in transition.Kadri has additionally struck a pleasant stability between skilled veterans and thrilling younger stars, together with handing out extra constant minutes to 19-year-old midfielders Hannibal Mejbri, who’s on mortgage with Birmingham Metropolis from Manchester United, and 21-year-old attacker Anis Ben Slimane, who at present performs with Brøndby, although one of many greater capped Ferjani Sassi or Ellyes Skhiri is nearly all the time close by for a cool, calm head in the midst of the park.Tunisia are additionally robust between the sticks, with 38-year-old goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi (often called Balbouli) – extensively touted as one in all Africa’s greatest-ever goalkeepers. He has been referred to as as much as assist usher within the subsequent technology together with younger Aymen Dahmen, who is predicted to begin some video games regardless of having only a handful of caps.However that will not matter if the group is ready to defend as resolutely as their file exhibits they will and, as they proved of their pleasant wins over Japan and Chile in June, discover methods to attain towards groups who out-possess them.Finally, that is the sport for the Socceroos to essentially go for. Understanding that Tunisia are accustomed to having much less possession of the ball, deploying extra artistic and attack-minded gamers who can rating from all areas of the sector shall be essential for Graham Arnold, as will guaranteeing there are quick, disciplined defenders who can clear up any turn-overs and snuff out the counterattacks of their opponents.If Australia can snatch a draw towards France and safe all three factors towards Tunisia, all whereas preserving their aim distinction at an affordable stage, it could possibly be what sees them via to the Spherical of 16 for simply the second time of their historical past.Match Day 3: DenmarkWhen: December 1 at 2am AEDTWhere: Al Janoub Stadium, Al WakrahHead coach: Kasper HjulmandFIFA rating: 102018 World Cup outcome: Spherical of 16Finally, the Socceroos will shut out the group stage with a remaining match towards the 2022 event darkish horses, Denmark.Whereas this shall be simply their sixth look at a World Cup finals, a event the place they’ve by no means progressed previous the quarterfinals (in 1998), there’s a actual sense of momentum concerning the Danes over the previous few years.This sense is basically primarily based on their miraculous run via the 2020 European Championships, the place they reached the semifinals for the primary time since 1992 and solely narrowly misplaced to England 2-1 after additional time. Denmark had their dream European Championship run minimize brief by England again in 2020.(Getty Photographs: Alex Morton)It was a event that was notably emotional for the group after midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the sector following a coronary heart assault of their opening recreation. The squad and the nation (and plenty of different impartial followers) received behind Denmark as they continued on within the Euros, charging previous Russia, Wales, and the Czech Republic in a month that noticed the group introduced even nearer collectively.It is this collective psychological energy and perception in themselves that shall be Denmark’s driving power in Qatar. Alongside the Socceroos, the Danes are one of many solely different nations to have made a robust public assertion concerning the human rights considerations of this World Cup, even organising protest kits with provider Hummel which might be fully plain as “[they] do not want to be seen throughout a event that has price hundreds of individuals their lives”.Australia are aware of Denmark on the pitch, too, having confronted them within the group stage again in 2018. Eriksen was their sole goalscorer in that 1-1 draw, with a 1-0 win over Peru and a 0-0 draw with France sufficient to get them via to the Spherical of 16, the place they simply misplaced to finalists Croatia 3-2 on penalties after drawing 1-1. The Socceroos drew 1-1 with Denmark on the final World Cup, however the Danes have gathered a lot momentum since then.(AP: Martin Meissner)Denmark are nearly the right mixture of France and Tunisia in that they’ve an array of world-class gamers who’re organised in a constant and efficient system that performs to their strengths.Typically organising in a 4-3-3, the Danes are anchored on the again by their vastly skilled captain Simon Kjær, the group’s most capped participant with 121 appearances who at present performs for Milan in Italy.He’s often accompanied by Barcelona’s Andreas Christiensen or, extra lately, Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen, with the fullback positions lined off by Leeds United’s Ramus Kristensen and Atalanta’s Joakim Mæhle. Simply forward of them sits the puppet grasp Eriksen, the group’s highest goalscorer with 39 targets in 117 video games. He’s supported by the midfield duo of Thomas Delaney of Sevilla and Tottenham’s hard-running Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.The group’s midfield depth, nevertheless, is of concern, with a little bit of an expertise hole opening up between these three and the gamers ready within the wings. Given the Qatar World Cup’s tightened schedule and shorter turnarounds in between video games, fatigue and niggling accidents may weaken Denmark’s center considerably because the group rolls on.One other doable weak point of the Danes is up entrance. There was a whole lot of experimentation with the ahead line over the previous 12 months with no one actually cementing themselves because the first-choice striker.RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen is at present the highest-capped striker with 11 targets in 68 video games, adopted intently behind by former Barcelona ahead Martin Braithwaite (10 targets in 62 caps). Copenhagen’s Andreas Cornelius and Sevilla’s Kasper Dolberg are additionally potential choices, with 9 and 11 targets for Denmark respectively.Regardless of that uncertainty, although, Denmark come into Qatar on a wave of success. They’ve gained 5 of their eight video games this 12 months — three of which had been gained by greater than a aim — together with two victories over France within the UEFA Nations League. Certainly, the place France seem like a group of stars, Denmark have became a star group.It will doubtless be Australia’s hardest match-up, so it is maybe fortunate that it comes on the finish of a gaggle stage that ought to already be pretty tied up.Shutting down playmaker Eriksen shall be completely essential if the Socceroos need to get something from this recreation, as shall be deploying gamers who can break shortly between and behind traces to pounce on any Danish errors.Even when they do get previous the three purple traces of Denmark’s formation, Australia then need to cope with the good Kasper Schmeichel in aim.Possibilities shall be restricted, so the Socceroos need to take them every time they will get them and hope that they will hold the mighty Danes at bay if they’re to progress.

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