Denmark are set to make their sixth appearance at a World Cup finals after a near-perfect qualifying campaign (W9, L1), partly thanks to a defence that conceded just three goals – the joint-lowest total of any team that played in a six-team group. The Danish federation was hostile to the organisation of the tournament in Qatar, but coach Kasper Hjulmand stated his team would now “concentrate on football” after FIFA banned them from training with jerseys bearing the message “Human Rights for All”.
De Rød-Hvide arrive with high ambitions and their two wins over defending world champions and Group D rivals, France, in the UEFA Nations League earlier this year was a mark of intent. Denmark have won their opening group stage game in four of their previous five World Cup appearances (L1), and kick off in Doha against Tunisia holding an unbeaten record against CAF nations in the World Cup (W2, D2) so belief will likely be sky-high.
This will also be a sixth World Cup finals appearance for Tunisia but expectations are much lower, having won just two of their previous 15 games in the competition (D4, L9). The Eagles of Carthage managed only one clean sheet across those World Cup matches, but things could be different this time around, as they were on a run of seven straight games without conceding a single goal before suffering a 5-1 trouncing against Brazil in September.
Coach Jalel Kadri said they “reassured themselves” after a 2-0 win against Iran for their last pre-World Cup friendly encounter, but this upcoming game against a European nation will represent a tougher assignment. Tunisia are still winless against European opposition in the World Cup (D3, L7), and the opening exchanges could be decisive given that they’ve conceded first within 15 minutes in three of their last four World Cup matches against UEFA nations currently ranked in FIFA’s top ten.
Players to watch: Symbolic of the new Danish generation, Andreas Skov Olsen has been his nation’s most prolific player during the World Cup 2022 qualifiers with eight goal contributions (G5, A3). Also his country’s spearhead, Wahbi Khazri was directly involved in four of Tunisia’s five group stage goals during the 2018 World Cup (G2, A2), becoming the first player to score twice for Tunisia in the competition.
Hot stat: Denmark’s previous four World Cup matches against CAF nations have all seen the game’s opener scored within 16 minutes.