Home » Raphael Varane struggles as France suffer defeat to Tunisia in final World Cup group game

Raphael Varane struggles as France suffer defeat to Tunisia in final World Cup group game

by Conner Botterill

France finished their World Cup group campaign with a surprise defeat to Tunisia at the Education City Stadium, in Al Rayyan.

Didier Deschamps rested key players in preparation for the Round of 16, knowing that safe passage and top spot were already in the bag.

He decided to make nine changes and that meant the holders were not at their fluid best and Tunisia took full advantage, having the better of the exchanges for the majority of the game.

A brilliant solo goal from former Sunderland man Wahbi Khazri just before the hour mark was enough to give Tunisia a famous win, with a last-gasp Antoine Griezmann goal being ruled out for offside.

Unfortunately for the Africans, the win wasn’t enough to see them progress to the knockout phase, with Australia beating Denmark to steal second place.

The first half belonged to Tunisia, who came out of the traps strong but couldn’t find the opener and had a goal ruled out for offside in the opening exchanges.

The second half started in the same vein, with France unable to find any kind of rhythm before the Tunisia opener and even the introduction of Kylian Mbappe, Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Adrien Rabiot wasn’t enough to force an equaliser.

Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane captained the side but looked a little leggy on his first start in over a month.

Varane was tested throughout his 60 minutes on the field and was left red-faced as Khazri waltzed past him with ease,  before sliding the ball past Steve Mandanda to give Tunisia the lead.

However, he will be grateful for the minutes as he builds his way back to full fitness after the injury suffered at Stamford Bridge in October threw his participation at the tournament into doubt.

United target Mbappe started the game on the bench but was introduced just after the hour mark to try and salvage something from the game.

Unfortunately for the French, he wasn’t able to add to his goal tally but is still in the hunt for the Golden Boot having notched three goals in his opening two games.

United have been linked with a monster move for the PSG man, as they search for their Cristiano Ronaldo replacement.

France will meet the runner-up of Group C in the knockout phase, which could still be one from Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia or Mexico, with the deciding matches taking place later tonight.

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