Match previews for four crunch matches on Day 11 of 2022 FIFA World Cup as Groups C and D come to a head.
With France already qualified in Group D, Australia know that their fate is in their own hands whilst Denmark and Tunisia know that only victory would see them stand any chance at qualifying as runner-up in the group.
Group C meanwhile is on a knife-edge as Poland and Argentina meet in a huge winners-take-all showdown, whilst Saudi Arabia and Mexico know that victory will be crucial to their qualification ambitions.
Group D (3:00pm GMT)
Australia vs Denmark
With a two-point advantage over Denmark, Australia simply need to win to secure a Round of 16 spot although a draw would be enough if Tunisia fail to beat France.
Graham Arnold’s Socceroos though can take heart from a much-improved performance in their win against Tunisia, where they were clinical but crucially were able to control the game even when largely defending in the second-half with discipline.
Denmark meanwhile again looked sluggish despite matching France in terms of attacking intensity, with strong defending and counter-attacks which certainly frustrated the reigning champions who ultimately were just more clinical.
This game though is simply a must-win for the Danes or they’re out so I do expect them to raise their game, although they were in a similar situation at UEFA Euro 2020 but crucially qualified with a dominant win which should provide additional motivation coming into this match.
Australia though are a whole different class to how Russia played in that particular final group game at the Euros, so I can see a tough scrappy battle which might well suit Australia if they can replicate their quality from the win over Tunisia.
Prediction: Australia 1-1 Denmark
Result: Australia 1-0 Denmark
Tunisia vs France
Sat bottom of Group D, this is simply a must-win for Tunisia who also need Australia to draw with Denmark in order to qualify, although the maths could get complicated if Denmark also win their final group match.
End product though has been Tunisia’s weakness in their two previous group matches despite some excellent defending, so improvement is absolutely vital if they’re to get the win to give themselves any hope of escaping this group.
France meanwhile are already through and with a tricky opponent in the Round of 16 looking incredibly likely, I do expect some squad rotation especially after a physical win over Denmark in which patience was vital but they’re yet to keep a defensive clean sheet which is a slight concern.
This game though does feel like the Les Bleus’ to lose but Tunisia certainly won’t make this easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Prediction: Tunisia 0-2 France
Result: Tunisia 1-0 France
Group C (7:00pm GMT)
Poland vs Argentina
Sat top of Group C, Poland know that a win or draw would be enough to see them advance but they required patience and clinical finishing to beat Saudi Arabia, which might not be possible if Argentina turn up ready for a tense battle.
Speaking of Argentina, they did look a team of two halves against Mexico because they looked lacklustre with poor energy throughout the first-half, yet were able to make that clinical improvement to snatch a crucial win which puts their fate in their own hands.
Argentina though know that a win will send them through but a draw might be enough depending upon the result of Saudi Arabia’s meeting against Mexico, whilst defeat would definitely see them eliminated.
Either way, this promises to be a blockbuster clash between two quality teams but Poland have kept two clean sheets with fairly consistent defensive performances, whereas Argentina are tricky to predict based on two contrastable displays.
Something in me though says that a surprise is looming and I feel like Poland might just have the edge if Robert Lewandowski is at his best.
Prediction: Poland 2-1 Argentina
Result: Poland 0-2 Argentina
Saudi Arabia vs Mexico
After enjoying a shock clinical win over Argentina in their opening game, Saudi Arabia seemed to lose their finishing touch with a wasteful display against Poland but crucially their two previous opponents are colliding so a win against Mexico would see them through to the Last 16.
Mexico meanwhile were dominant in the first half against Argentina yet just let their quality drop and didn’t recover throughout the second-half, amidst some decent defending to limit the Argentineans to just two goals but more consistency is needed in what is now a must-win game.
With that in mind, I just feel like tactics and end product could well be crucial but Saudi Arabia do seem the more hungrier team performance wise, which could be enough if they can find their clinical edge.
Prediction: Saudi Arabia 1-0 Mexico
Result: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico