France is already home and dry in the last 16 but the runners’ up position remains up for grabs for any of the other three teams in Group D – Australia, Denmark and Tunisia.
The defending champions do not need to win their last 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage match against Tunisia on Wednesday evening, but that is not is not expected to make things any easier for Tunisia. Sitting at the top of the table with six points from two games, Les Bleus have already qualified for the last 16 and even if they were to lose to Tunisia, which would not be a big march in the unlikely event, Australia would need to win by a big margin against Denmark to topple France from top of Group D.
While the absence of the need to win against Tunisia carries with it the risk of complacency for France, who have not lost a World Cup match since their quarterfinals defeat to Germany in 2014, it is that lack of pressure that could equally make them more dangerous against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia. Didier Deschamps is expected to give fringe players a run and try new combinations which could pose problems for Tunisia who may not know exactly what to expect in their must-win encounter against the defending champions.
A draw would not be good enough for Tunisia and a win would take them to four points and qualify for the round of 16 only if the match between Australia and Denmark on the other end ends in a stalemate. A win for Australia would take Tunisia out of the equation even if they were to beat France, while a win for Denmark would leave it down to goal difference between Tunisia and Denmark if Tunisia gets the three points from France.
Australia only need a draw in the event that Tunisia fail to get maximum points against France, A draw for Australia met with a win for Tunisia would get Australia packing out of the tournament on goal difference. A win secures it for Australia irrespective of the outcomes of the match between France and Tunisia.
The uncertainty of Group C where any of the four teams – Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico – can still go through and face any of the team in Group B, make it even harder to calculate for Group B teams.
Worst case scenario
With France having secured their last 16 berth, there isn’t much of a shock that could still come out of Group D. Only an unexpected win for Tunisia against Les Bleus, which would make the fight for the runners-up position even more complicated can happen.
France and Australia to go through