Messi misfortune, Socceroo sacrifice and the biggest flops of all: Five takeaways from day 11 of World Cup 2022

Lionel Messi
(Image credit: Getty)

Day 11's drama included the conclusion of Groups C and D, with the likes of France, Denmark, Argentina and Poland all in action. 

Les Blues suffered a shock defeat to Tunisia but still breezed through as winners of Group D. They took plucky Australia along with them for the ride. 

Later on, Poland edged through on goal difference despite a loss to Group C winners Argentina. 

Here's everything that we learned from a thrilling day in Qatar...

France's squad depth is poor and unreliable 

France World Cup 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With France already knowing they were through to the last-16 of the World Cup, and most likely as group winners, Didier Deschamps opted for a change of personnel for his side against Tunisia - nine players, to be exact.

This didn’t work for the side, though, with players such as Eduardo Camavinga playing out of position at left-back, and the French couldn’t seem to click into gear. While not a total disaster, it does prove one thing: France’s squad depth is nowhere near the levels of Brazil, or, dare we say it, England. 

Having already suffered high-profile injuries to players such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Lucas Hernandez, France have lost plenty of first-team options. Granted, the starting XI isn’t exactly poor, but do the players coming off the bench have what it takes to propel them to World Cup glory, should they be called upon? FFT isn’t too convinced. 

At least they still have Kylian Mbappe - although, any slight knock he suffers, France might as well wave goodbye to the tournament. The knockouts could prove crucial for the World Cup holders.

Saudi Arabia blow the perfect start

Saudi Arabia

(Image credit: Getty)

When preparing for this World Cup, Saudi Arabia might have seen their second and third group games as their biggest opportunities for qualification. After all, their opening fixture against Lionel Messi's Argentina hardly looked like a chance to get points on the board. 

But a 2-1 victory over the South Americans stunned everybody – a shock for the ages that had many wondering if the Saudis were dark horses at Qatar 2022. That hope was short lived, however, as defeats to Poland and then Mexico on day 11 saw them head home at the first hurdle. 

It was a massive fall from grace and manager Herve Renard make it perfectly clear that this was a missed opportunity. To win the toughest game, only to lose far easier fixtures (on paper at least) will have felt crushing. Talk about defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. 

Lionel Messi isn't very good at penalties

Lionel Messi

(Image credit: Getty)

For a man who can basically do anything he wants with a football, Messi's penalty record is pants. Yes, he's scored scored loads throughout his career, but he's also missed a lot, and these mistakes have often come in the biggest moments. 

Against Poland, with the scores at nil-nil, Messi missed the 31st penalty of his career – his fourth for his country. Given a win was imperative in terms of qualifying from the group, it was a huge miss.

It might not be a bad idea to let someone else take them in future. Messi can then be left to focus on what he does best... which is, erm, just about everything else. 

Denmark are the biggest flops so far

Christian Eriksen of Denmark looks dejected following defeat during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Croatia and Denmark at Stadion Maksimir on September 22, 2022 in Zagreb, Croatia.

(Image credit: Goran Stanzl/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)

There were good reasons why Denmark were considered dark horses by many people going into the World Cup.

Kasper Hjulmand’s headed to Qatar with a talent-packed squad that had been dominant in qualifying, beaten France twice recently in the Nations League and reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals just last summer.

Denmark can, therefore, be considered the biggest flop of the tournament so far. Losing to and finishing behind France is one thing, but picking up one point from two games against Tunisia and Australia, failing to score a goal in the process is another thing entirely.

Australia's workrate is commendable

Australia

(Image credit: Getty)

Even the biggest Socceroos fan would admit that Australia lag a long way behind the best teams in terms of technical quality. But they've reached the knockouts anyway, thanks to an incredible spirit and work rate.

Against Denmark, Graham Arnold's side ran themselves into the ground and fully deserved their unlikely victory. The team's commendable work ethic is best personified by midfielder Jackson Irvine, who plays like a man possessed whenever he dons the famous yellow jersey. 

Today, Irvine made a whopping 69 sprints, more than any other player has managed in a game in Qatar, and covered a ridiculous 12.68km. If Irvine & Co. keep this up, they'll be a nuisance for whoever they face in the next round. 

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.

With contributions from