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Surprises continue showing up at World Cup; play to Mexico’s advantage

Today’s Group D results were just another case of an upset at the current World Cup.

Tunisia v France: Group D - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Well, that was unexpected. Minutes ago, Tunisia closed out a 1-0 victory over a clear reserve France starting lineup, but still better overall than Tunisia’s starters and more than expected to win nonetheless. Add to that the fact France subbed in Mbappé, Saliba, Rabiot, Griezmann, and Dembélé with more than enough time to make a difference. Especially the first three, coming on with over half an hour to go. So France not only could’ve tied the game, but turned it around and won. They came close to spoiling Tunisia’s excitement in the dying minutes, but Griezmann was clearly offside and the goal was correctly disallowed.

With the win, Tunisia needed a draw between Australia and Denmark to move on. You would’ve thought there was no way Australia could defeat Denmark after the Danish display against the French in their last game. And after Australia took the lead, it was reasonable to expect Denmark would find an equalizer and give Tunisia its ticket into the knockout phase, as Denmark were desperately looking for goals to move on themselves. Well, think again.

Australia held on to its slim 1-0 lead and upset Denmark, who finished last in the group without a single win in this World Cup, when they were expected to move on to the Round of 16 behind France of course. In fact, Denmark only scored once in the cup, and it came in their loss to France.

In the end, both results were a massive surprise, as both France and Denmark were expected to win their respective matches, and that would’ve lined up the group in its original, expected fashion. Instead, France and Australia finish tied for 1st with 6 points apiece, with goal advantage favoring Didier Deschamps’s squad (FRA +3, AUS -1). So ultimately, France and Australia are moving on to the Round of 16 where they await their rivals from Group C, to be unveiled later today.

If there was ever a time to be excited about World Cup surprises / upsets, that time would be now. If you’re Mexico, you need Poland to upset Argentina in a match where Messi and company are by far the favorites (originally expected to compete for the title), and all it would take from you is a victory by any score over Saudi Arabia. All other roads get complicated as it would take a multiple goal victory over the Saudis, and considering Mexico have failed to score in their 180 minutes played thus far, it doesn’t look likely.

So, if an upset is what it takes for Mexico to reach the knockout phase, they might just be in luck, as this World Cup has been full of them. Even Argentina themselves were upset last week. It could happen again, and if other teams are moving on because of it, why not Mexico? We’ll find out soon enough.