Tunisia stun world champions France but fall short of last 16 – 5 talking points

  1. TUNISIA Wahbi Khazri’s goal in the second half handed Tunisia a victory over France, but it wasn’t enough to advance them to the World Cup’s knockout rounds.

Even though France’s World Cup group stage campaign ended in an unconvincing 1-0 loss to Tunisia, they nevertheless advanced as group champions.

Raphael Varane and Aurelien Tchouameni were the only starters to stay on from the team that defeated Denmark and secured first place. Didier Deschamps made nine changes to the lineup. Axel Disasi, a rookie, and veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda both received opportunities as a result.

However, the reigning champions had a sloppy opening hour, and Wahbi Khazri’s goal for Tunisia was no less than they deserved. In an effort to salvage a win, France turned to record-breaker Kylian Mbappe. They thought they had equalised at the very end, but Antoine Griezmann’s goal was ruled out by the VAR.

Within ten minutes, Tunisia had the ball in the back of the net on a volley by Nader Ghandri, but Les Bleus were spared by the offside flag. The defending world champions had a fragmented first half, but the underdogs persisted after the break knowing that a spot in the last 16 wasn’t out of the question.

They made a breakthrough just before the hour mark when Wahbi Khazri’s final touch, before being replaced, struck the corner. As France sought an equaliser, Mbappe, Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele left their positions on the bench.

Goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen made a few key stops to keep Tunisia ahead, but ultimately Australia’s victory over Denmark meant it wasn’t enough. Here are some key takeaways from an excruciating 90 minutes from Mirror Football

1 Dembele sorely missed

Ousmane Dembele has been one of France’s best players thus far, but with the Barcelona player sidelined, Kingsley Coman had a chance to establish himself. However, the victor of the Champions League struggled early on, wasting one of France’s greatest opportunities with a heavy touch and hurried finish after finding space.

After an hour had passed, Coman was replaced by Kylian Mbappe in a triple substitution. The tryout for the Bayern player had not gone as planned, and Dembele’s 12-minute cameo included just as many instances of genuine danger as Coman’s hour.

He wasn’t the only fringe participant who fell short of persuasion. Jordan Veretout, like Coman, was only given an hour before Deschamps introduced Adrien Rabiot. Mandanda had a few nervous moments and would have loved to do more with Khazri’s goal. The starting lineup for the round of 16 should resemble what we saw against Denmark more closely.

2. More minutes for Varane

Deschamps declared before the competition that he would not select players who couldn’t demonstrate their fitness to him. After suffering an injury while playing for Manchester United, Varane was possibly on the edge, but he started against Denmark and held his spot against Tunisia.

The former Real Madrid player had a busy afternoon because he had to head a dangerous early set piece from inside the goalmouth. It was a different situation with this selection than it may have been if France had been at full strength.

Varane was replaced by William Saliba after an hour because he had failed to prevent Tunisia from gaining the lead. The 29-year-old showed some promising signs, but France will be hoping for more from him in the future.

3. Khazri causing problems

Wahbi Khazri, who was 31 years old, might have been taking part in his final World Cup game. If that’s the case, he appeared to be a player trying to make up for not starting Tunisia’s first two matches.

Despite a brief stint in the Premier League, Khazri showed flashes of brilliance while at Sunderland. Nevertheless, he has continued to play in Ligue 1, and in the 2021–22 campaign, he scored an extraordinary goal from inside his own half.

Aissa Laidouni stole the show in Tunisia’s first two games, but Khazri appeared to be the player most likely to perform against France. Indeed, he was the one to break the tie by calmly breaking through the French back line and defeating Mandanda as he advanced.

4. Camavinga unconvincing in new role

Didier Deschamps, the manager of France, made the unexpected decision to play Eduardo Camavinga at left-back due to the injury to Lucas Hernandez and the resting of his brother Theo. The Real Madrid player struggled at first since he wasn’t used to the position.

Camavinga was called for a foul on Aissa Laidouni right away, but he continued to work. After 30 minutes, a crucial interception was required to block the tardy Ghandri, but the former Rennes man refused to be intimidated.

There were still anxious moments, not the least of which was when, just before halftime, he switched off to let Khazri sneak up behind. Although the offside flag saved France on that occasion as well, it was clear that France would not be in a rush to start Camavinga at left-back going forward.

5. Close but no cigar for Tunisia

Before the game even started, Tunisia was aware of their difficult situation. Before playing the champions, they knew their fate was out of their hands after a disappointing match against Australia and a well-deserved draw with Denmark.

They may have been able to play fearlessly because of this, but it is definitely what happened. All they could do was do their own portion of the work and hope that the outcome between Australia and Denmark went in their favour.

The team of Jalel Kadri briefly had a chance to advance to the round of 16, but that hope was short-lived because Australia’s Matthew Leckie scored. However, the harm had already been done before to this game.

England advanced to the World Cup round of 16 and eliminated Wales in Qatar thanks in large part to Marcus Rashford’s double and Phil Foden’s performance living up to expectations.

Before the Three Lions firmly established the disparity in quality, the Dragons, who had a very narrow chance of avoiding elimination prior to kickoff, held out for more than 45 minutes. Rashford, a Manchester Derby opponent, fired into the far right corner of the goal to give Gareth Southgate’s team the lead after Foden displayed brilliant skill to earn a foul 20 yards from the goal.

After some excellent work from Harry Kane, fan favourite Foden extended the lead inside of two minutes with a close-range tap-in. In the 68th minute, Rashford struck an exquisite solo goal to secure all three points.

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