World Cup: Group D preview and best bets

By Nigel Seeley  (VSIN.com) 

November 17, 2022 06:34 PM
USATSI_19443629

The 2022 World Cup is finally here, and VSiN's soccer handicapper Nigel Seeley has picks, predictions and best bets for every group as part of the VSiN World Cup Guide.

Here is his Group D preview for France, Denmark, Australia and Tunisia:

Odds to win the group

France -225

Denmark +220

Australia +2500

Tunisia +1600

France

Not surprisingly, the defending World Cup holder France goes into the tournament as one of the favorites. They are just +750 to win back-to-back World Cups

France would be the first country since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to win back-to-back titles. If it is to pull off that incredible achievement, it will have to overcome the loss of key players with Varane, Kante and Pogba all major doubts.

Manager Didier Deschamps will be hoping he still has enough quality to make history. It is a big concern for any potential bettor that those three world-class stars could be missing.

Key players

Karim Benzema

Benzema has had a great year with Royal Madrid, winning La Liga, the Champions League and the Super Cup. He was recently awarded the prestigious Ballon d’Or, well-deserved for the man who scored 44 goals in 46 games for Real Madrid. Benzema goes into the tournament as one of the best players in the world on a team made up of top players. For many, he will be a confident pick for the tournament's top scorer.

Kylian Mbappe

There has been a great deal of controversy over the past year with Mbappe. Much of it stems from his bizarre contract situation and his feuding with fellow superstars Neymar and Messi. He has angered PSG and their fans by requesting a move away from Paris.

What is not up for debate is that this still-young man for club and country is one of the best in the world. He has 59 French games already and has scored 28 goals. His club form, despite all the ongoing issues, is quite staggering. In 127 appearances for PSG, he has scored an unbelievable 117 times.

His blistering pace makes it hard for any defender to keep up with him. But for anyone considering him for top goal scorer, I feel that the French will share the goals this tournament.

Prediction

France will qualify with ease for the knockout stage. But with key injuries and Denmark in its group, a nation that has caused the French numerous problems in recent matches, I wouldn’t bet the -250 on them winning Group D in a hurry. Even a side as brilliant as the French must be concerned because several key stars are expected to miss the tournament.

Denmark

Denmark’s Euro 2020 campaign started in disastrous circumstances with the awful Christian Eriksen incident. The tournament went on to be a brilliant one for the Great Danes as they made it to the semifinals before losing 2-1 to England.

Denmark enters as the favorite to finish second in the group at +100 to qualify and +250 to win it. That is largely owing to the quality of its squad compared with Australia and Tunisia. Denmark’s last game before the World Cup was a 2-0 win over group favorite France and it hasn’t lost to the French in the last three matches. Denmark will be no pushover against the French on match Day 2 and will certainly not be intimidated by the world champion or any team here.

Key player

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen was told he would never play again after Euro 2020, where he collapsed on the field and needed to be resuscitated.

He revived his career at Brentford after the incident and nowadays he is the rock in the Manchester United midfield. It really is a great fairy tale and the greatest part is that he heads into a World Cup as a key player for his country. The 30-year-old has played 117 times for Denmark since 2010, scoring 39 goals from central midfield.

Prediction

I think Denmark is a strong side and will be hard to beat. It will be one of the best organized teams in the tournament. I believe they will make it out of the group stage and, with their impressive head-to-head record against France, Denmark looks like value to top the group at the expense of the world champion at +250.

Australia

Australia is the 38th-ranked nation in current FIFA rankings and heads to Qatar after beating Peru 5-4 on penalties to qualify. Australia won an Asian Cup in 2015, but there is a huge gulf in class from an Asian Cup to a World Cup.

Australia will need a lot more than that gutsy Aussie tenacity against both France and Denmark. It is difficult to make a case for the Aussies against either of the European sides. They will be well-drilled and organized but may well lack the flair players to break down the two favorites.

Key player

Aaron Mooy

Mooy plies his trade for Scottish giants Celtic but is well known for his time playing in the EPL with Huddersfield and Brighton. The 32-year-old has appeared 53 times for the Australian national team with seven goals from central midfield. He will need to be at his best to cope with the abundance of talent he faces in the shape of the French and Danish midfields.

Prediction

I believe Australia will really struggle in Group D as there is a huge gulf of class between the Aussies and France and Denmark. I cannot see any other result but defeat for the Green and Gold in those games. The only points would come in what looks like the battle for the third spot with Tunisia.

Tunisia

Tunisia had a streak of three World Cup qualifications from 1998 to 2006 in a golden age of football for the country. It will make an impressive sixth appearance in 2022. Now for the bad part: Tunisia has never been able to progress past the group stage, and that won’t change in Qatar.

Tunisia arrives having just won the Kirin Cup, beating Japan 3-0 with some great counter-attacking play. Despite that collective confidence, I have to be brutally honest. Like Australia, Tunisia is going to struggle to compete with the European elites in France and Denmark. The Kirin Cup is a world away from the level needed to get out of this group.

Key player

Wahbi Khazri

Khazri is an attacking midfielder who has played 71 times for Tunisia since 2013 with 24 goals. Khazri recently moved from French club Saint-Étienne to Montpellier, scoring two goals in nine games since the move. Khazri is the captain of the national team and has represented them at five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and the 2018 World Cup. He is a real stalwart of the Tunisian team, and the players will look to him to provide a real attacking threat.

Prediction

You will not be surprised that I believe Tunisia will fall out at the group stage yet again and continue its long streak of going home early after not qualifying.

Best Bets

France and Denmark to qualify at -250

Denmark to win the group at +250

 

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