2022 World Cup: Tunisia at the bottom of the wave

They will be home. Or almost. More than 30,000 Tunisian supporters are expected at the Education City stadium in Al-Rayyan on Wednesday (November 30th). Many have made the trip, adding to the residents who make up Qatar’s largest foreign community. A red tide, as for the two previous matches of the Carthage Eagles. And this “twelfth man” will not be too much to succeed against the Blues, which is an impossible mission: to qualify for the second round of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

A grail that the Tunisian selection has been pursuing for ages. Exactly since this rather sensational debut in 1978, the novice Tunisians became the first African team to win a match in the World Cup (3-1 against Mexico). Performance remains forever on the shelves, but it is the only one. In five appearances, Tunisia has recorded only one other victory, in 2018 against Panama (2-1).

A weak group

For the moment, the 2022 campaign does not upset the situation. After a satisfactory start against Denmark (0-0), the Eagles left feathers where they thought they would fly over the case, against Australia. A defeat (0-1) synonymous with forced landing, and infinite regrets. To have been satisfied with defending for too long, to have forgotten to play again, to be incapable of reacting. In preparation for the World Cup, coach Jalel Kadri already mentioned the mental fragility of his group after a correction against Brazil (last September, 1-5): “You have to work mentally. We know we have young players, and sometimes you have to know how to calm down and manage the difficult moments. »

Difficulty, even against a largely redesigned French team to give some executives a break, there will inevitably be some this Wednesday, especially since only a big victory and a helping hand from fate in the other meeting of the group ( Denmark-Australia) can brighten the horizon of the Eagles. How can you suddenly turn into an attacking squadron when defensive solidity has been the team’s leitmotif for a long time?

The national team was built on this fairly minimalist credo. It hardly shines, and its limited track record bears witness to this: only an African Cup of Nations (CAN) won at home in 2004 adorns the window. Since then, the breeders have been marching, but without much possibility of building as their seat is ejectable. Often depending on their CAN result. In August 2019, a defeat in the CAN semi-final against Senegal? Goodbye Alain Giresse, the ex-Blue thanked eight months after his hiring. His local replacement, Mondher Kebaier? The elimination in the quarter-finals of the CAN 2021 (postponed to 2022 because of the Covid-19) against Burkina Faso is fatal to him last February.

A losing championship

Jalel Kadri was his deputy, and therefore found himself in charge of the selection eight months before the World Cup. To do with the means at hand, rather meager. To build his group, the coach drew on the binational pool of players trained in France or abroad. They are 12 out of the 26 in the workforce at the World Cup, but without big names, when Morocco, for example, can count on stars playing in major European clubs.

The workforce also has only eight players playing in Tunisia. So few locals, it’s a first that underlines the bad patch of Tunisian football. The championship, renowned for the structuring of its clubs, is in fact severely affected by the economic crisis. To find resources, clubs tend to recruit in neighboring countries, in particular in Algeria, to train talents and resell them. Gradually, the local reservoir is drying up. A drying up that the Tunisian Football Federation does not seem able to counter for the time being. Its president has in fact been at open war for months with the sports minister, who is threatening to dissolve the federal office. Another complicated match, on another ground.



World Cup 2022: Tunisia wins over sluggish Blues

The qualification being acquired, this last meeting of the group stage between France and Tunisia, this Wednesday, November 30, fueled many discussions in the great game of “who would do what”. With the understanding that a third game is then used to rotate the workforce, it was a question of who would get on the carousel, with a small chance of catching the pompom. That is to say to sit at the very end of the bench of substitutes in the future.

Deschamps turns everything upside down

But at kick-off, the main surprise came from the extent of the change proposed by Didier Deschamps: nine entrants, with some truly unpredictable like Randal Kolo Muani at the forefront of the attack, and Axel Disasi for a first start to the right of the defense in place of Benjamin Pavard. In 2014 in Brazil and in 2018 in Russia, the boss of the Blues was content to launch six new players on the meadow. At a press conference the day before, the coach had warned: “In no case should this third match be overused. The dynamic is important internally. » A way to motivate future fresh troops.

Except that there, it was a completely different team from France which found itself asked not to damage the beautiful work woven until then by the previous one. The only ones to put the blue heater on, Raphaël Varane, lacking rhythm after his injury, and Aurélien Tchouaméni, in other words barely the base of the usual spine of the Blues. Deschamps turns it all upside down, here is an additional novelty.

Few alternatives

More than a third match, an experimental match? The best way to concern absolutely everyone or almost, to further perfect group life? The risk of the formula is to reveal only a draft that is difficult to judge. And in fact, on the meadow, the case resulted in a very painful first half, with a team necessarily without great benchmarks but also individuals with very measured commitment. Tunisia at least showed more intensity, if not much more skill. The draw at the break is not only on the scoreboard, only the permanent fear inspired by a trembling French team allowing them to escape boredom.

The second half started on the same basis, and what had to happen happened, after a loss of ball, the blue defense letting itself be pierced (1-0, goal by Wahbi Khazri). The sequel was more decent with the entry of a few executives to avoid a correction, but without the Blues managing to equalize, a goal from Antoine Griezmann in extremis being finally refused for offside.

What lesson can we draw from such a meeting? That the Blues do not have a remarkable bench depth, only among the substitutes the defender Ibrahima Konaté having proved convincing.

Can’t wait for Sunday? It is indeed the feeling that emerged after such a spectacle. The Blues are done with their first round, and almost everyone (except third goalkeeper Alphonse Areola) has come for a lap. It wasn’t for the best.



FIFA World Cup 2022: France with Denmark and Tunisia in Group D

233 days from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the small emirate is focusing attention on the future competition which should take place from November 21 to December 18. While the distribution of the posters for the first round was eagerly awaited, the draw made at 6 p.m. this Friday, April 1 in Doha lifted the suspense.

► France face Denmark in Group D

The sentence has fallen: France, reigning world champion, will find Denmark of Christian Eriksen, semi-finalist of the last Euro, as well as Tunisia, in Group D. This draw turns out to be lenient, even if its eighth final could be tougher, with Argentina, Poland and Mexico as potential opponents.

→ EXPLANATION. World Cup 2022: what would be the worst and the best draw for the France team?

Denmark has often been the lucky charm of the Blues in major competition: at each of their major trophies, the Habs have crossed paths with the Danes on their way in the group stage, without ever losing (1-0 at Euro-1984, 2-1 at the 1998 World Cup, 3-0 at the Euro-2000, 0-0 at the 2018 World Cup)

► Qatar opens the ball against Ecuador in Group A

Qatar, the host country which is playing its first final phase of the World Cup, will open the ball against Ecuador, who have already competed four times, in Group A. Qatar will also have to face the African champion , Senegal, and the Netherlands.

► Iran and USA in the same group (B)

Iran and the United States, which have terrible diplomatic relations, are in the same group (B) as are England, Scotland, Ukraine and Wales.

Iran and the United States have already faced each other in the World Cup, in 1998 in France, and Iran won 2-1. During this meeting, the two teams posed together for a historic photo.

→ REREAD. The ball for the World Cup in Qatar is called Al Rihla

► Germany v Spain in Group E

Germany, placed in pot 2, despite having four world champion stars on the jersey, was the opponent that no one wanted among the top seeds. It was finally Spain who inherited it, for one of the flagship posters of the first round. Japan are also in Group E, along with New Zealand and Costa Rica.

► Brazil against Serbia in Group G

Brazil, record holder of victories with five trophies (the last 20 years ago), will have to be wary of Serbia of Dusan Vlahovic, who had beaten Portugal in qualifying, and Switzerland, in Group G.

Group C will consist of Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. Group H will be made up of Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea. In Group F, Belgium will face Croatia. The two countries have only faced each other in friendly or qualifying matches, never at the World Cup or the Euro. Canada and Morocco are also in this group. For now, only 29 of the 32 participating countries are known.