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2022 World Cup Odds & Preview: Group D Guide

2022 World Cup Odds & Preview: Group D Guide article feature image
Credit:

Jean Catuffe/Getty. Pictured: Kylian Mbappe.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to get underway, and our soccer experts are here to provide you with a full preview. 

Read on for analysis of Group D in the tournament, featuring France, Denmark, Tunisia and Australia.

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France

The defending World Cup champions come into Qatar once again as one of the favorites to lift the trophy. In terms of talent, France might have the most complete roster of anyone in this tournament. 

Obviously, they have two of the best attacking players in the world in PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and the Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, who combined for 88 goals at the club level last season. Additionally, France have RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku, Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman. 

Injuries have taken their toll in the midfield, as Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are going to miss the World Cup. However, it might have been a mistake to start those two over the Real Madrid pair of Aurélien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, who have been in fantastic form at the club level to begin the season and look ready to take over the French midfield. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 59.71% -250
Advance To Knockout Round 92.02% -1000
Win World Cup 10.83% +600
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

Then, in defense, France have tons of options for a center back pairing. Raphaël Varane has been a staple in the French backline for a number of years, but Didier Deschamps has Arsenal’s William Saliba, Barcelona’s Jules Koundé, or the Bayern Munich pair of Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez at his disposal. He has outstanding full backs in Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard and AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez. 

While France have all of the talent in the world, their results since winning the 2018 World Cup have been a bit questionable. They got knocked out of the Euros in the Round of 16 by Switzerland and got thoroughly dominated by Germany and Portugal during the group stage. Against Germany, Portugal and Switzerland in the Euros, France allowed a total of 5.5 xG in three matches. Additionally, their low block defensive style of play under Deschamps has not been easy on the eyes for most fans. 

France should easily get out of Group D, but winning the event is not going to be as straightforward as most people think, because the match against Denmark is going to be incredibly difficult. With that being said, with Mbappe and Benzema on the pitch together, it’s hard to look away from this French side making another deep run in the World Cup. 

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Denmark

Once you get past the tournament favorites and traditional powerhouses of world football, Denmark have a case as the next-best team in the World Cup tournament field. Their run to the semifinal in the Euros last summer was no fluke. Denmark lost to Finland in the first match under extraordinary circumstances following the on-field collapse of captain Christian Eriksen, but they dominated Belgium for large stretches of that match in a 2-1 defeat. Denmark then dominated three lesser sides – Russia, Wales and the Czech Republic – before an extra time loss to England in the semifinal. 

There’s not a ton of top-end talent in this Denmark side, but there aren’t many holes, either. They have three center backs that play at top clubs in Europe with Simon Kjaer, Joachim Andersen and Andreas Christensen all excelling with the ball at their feet and playing through pressure to progress the ball up the pitch. Good passing structures are the feature of this Denmark team under manager Kasper Hjulmand. Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are the two holding midfielders, with Hojbjerg taking on a more progressive passing role for Denmark than he does for Spurs.

Joakim Maehle had his international breakout at the Euros as the three at the back system enabled him to get forward often and create chances through crossing. His creativity helps to make up for the lack of game-changing attacking talent. Mikkel Damsgaard and Eriksen are two excellent playmakers who don’t do a ton of pressing or defensive work. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 35.93% +275
Advance To Knockout Round 83.98% -300
Win World Cup 4.64% +2800
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

The biggest question mark for Denmark at this World Cup is what they do at striker. Jonas Wind, Martin Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg are the three best forward options. The attack was at its best with Dolberg in the Euros, but he has produced next to nothing at Sevilla this season in more than 400 minutes. Wind isn’t getting regular minutes at Wolfsburg, either. On form alone, the answer at striker would seem to be Braithwaite, who is playing regular minutes and producing solid shot, xG and goal numbers at Espanyol this season.

Another reason for optimism: Denmark’s pressing style has really caused problems for multiple top European teams in the last couple years. Denmark beat France twice in the Nations League this summer, and while you can call into question the motivation for Les Bleus in that match, the Danes also dominated Belgium at the Euros last summer. They won the xG battle 1.7-0.9 and outshot the Belgians 17-6 in the match. 

Denmark rolled through qualifying and were the first team in Europe to clinch qualification through the group stage first round. They didn’t have a particularly difficult group with Scotland and Austria, but through the first eight matches of qualifying, they had eight wins from eight and had scored 27 goals whilst not conceding any. 

The Danes didn’t get a particularly difficult group to advance from, and they’ll certainly feel good about their chances against France in the second match of the group. If Denmark finish second in the group, Argentina likely looms in the Round of 16. However, the Danes are certainly live to win this group with one good result against France. That could open the door for a favorable path to the quarterfinals and beyond.

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Tunisia

The North African nation is now playing in their second-straight World Cup after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Tunisia won their qualifying group over Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania but only had a +3.32 xGD in those six matches. Then, they made it to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in January, losing to Burkina Faso 1-0. 

Tunisia then beat Mali over a two-leg playoff to reach their second straight World Cup, although they weren’t able to generate many high-quality chances on net, as they only created 0.73 xG over the two meetings. 

During the 2018 World Cup, Tunisia were placed in a group with England, Belgium and Panama. England and Belgium absolutely throttled them, scoring a combined seven goals off of eight xG, but Tunisia were able to dominate Panama and get a 2-1 victory. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 2.58% +1600
Advance To Knockout Round 13.85% +350
Win World Cup 0.04% +50000
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

In terms of talent, there are not a lot of guys playing at the highest level for football at the moment. Wahbi Khazri has been the main man upfront for a long time, making 71 international appearances and scoring 24 goals. They have Ellyes Skhiri, who is an outstanding defensive midfielder for Koln in the German Bundesliga, along with a center back pairing of Dylan Bronn and Montassar Talbi, who are at least playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues. 

Tunisia also made a managerial change after the Africa Cup of Nations, promoting Jalel Kadri after sacking Mondher Kebaier after their loss in the quarterfinal to Burkina Faso. 

For Tunisia to make it out of the group stage for the first time in their country’s history, they need to perform better against top competition. In the Africa Cup of Nations, despite beating one of the best teams on the continent in Nigeria, they got outcreated on xG 0.53 to 1.07, and Nigeria got a red card in the 66th minute. So, if Tunisia repeat what happened against England and Belgium, they will not be getting out of this group. 

Australia

The Socceroos come into the World Cup by winning not one, but two playoffs against the United Arab Emirates and then against Peru. Australia finished third in their World Cup qualifying group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, but looking at the underlying numbers, they were actually on par with Saudi Arabia. 

Through their 12 matches of Third Round World Cup Qualifying, along with their two playoff matches, Australia were at a +0.27 xGD per 90 minutes, which really isn’t that impressive considering the average Action Network ranking of their opponent was 76. The two matches against Japan were a good test to see if they would be able to hang with either France or Denmark in this group, and they did not pass that test whatsoever. Japan thoroughly dominated them on xG 3.96 to 2.38 over the two meetings and won both matches as well. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 1.78% +1400
Advance To Knockout Round 10.15% +300
Win World Cup 0.01% +35000
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

In terms of roster talent, Australia are near the bottom of the list with nobody really of note playing in one of the top leagues in Europe. They do have some names people might recognize like former Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is currently playing with Scottish giants Celtic, and former Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan, who is currently playing for FC Copenhagen in the Danish Superliga. 

The World Cup will be nothing new to this Australian team, as a lot of their players were on the squad when they played in 2018 in Russia. What was interesting about that World Cup is they were in a group with France, Denmark and Peru. They have both France and Denmark in their group this time, and they beat Peru by way of the playoff to get into this World Cup. 

In 2018, they lost to France 2-1 but were actually tied with them until conceding an own goal; then, they drew Denmark 1-1 with an xG edge. So, if you are looking for a path for Australia getting to the Round of 16, they will likely have to put two heroic performances against France and Denmark, just like they did in 2018, and then beat Tunisia. 

Group D Schedule

Date Time Match
Nov. 22 8 a.m. ET Denmark vs. Tunisia
Nov. 22 2 p.m. ET France vs. Australia
Nov. 26 5 a.m. ET Tunisia vs. Australia
Nov. 26 11 a.m. ET France vs. Denmark
Nov. 30 10 a.m. ET Tunisia vs. France
Nov. 30 10 a.m. ET Australia vs. Denmark

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