Tunisia and England will battle on Monday the 18th of June at 6pm (GMT) in Volgograd. Both teams will be eager for a successful start to their campaigns, with Belgium waiting further down the line.
Tunisia v England
Tunisia’s Playing Style and Tactics
When Tunisia recently played Portugal in an international friendly, the African team delivered two decent ground crosses into the opposition penalty area. While at first unsuccessful, their efforts were rewarded when Fakhreddine Ben Youssef connected with a beautiful aerial cross from Tunisia’s right side to earn a 2-2 draw. Against Spain, the Tunisians floated some crosses in from their left side, but failed to score. Still, they created some nervy moments for a team that appeared formidable throughout their qualifying campaign.
Tunisia will, in all likelihood, deploy a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 formation in order to provide some support to their wingers. These formations can also create a focal point around the central attacking midfield position. Tunisia seem to enjoy having this midfielder quickly distribute the ball out wide.
England’s Playing Style and Tactics
England created numerous opportunities from set-pieces in their World Cup warm-up matches. Kieran Trippier almost scored a free kick with a curling effort against Nigeria. Shortly after, Gary Cahill powered a header into the back of the net from a corner kick. Another corner kick in the latter stages saw Eric Dier make a purposeful run and put a header wide. Against Costa Rica, England’s Phil Jones and Harry Maguire also connected with the ball from corner kicks.
Of course, England fans tend to demand more of their national team than just threats from set-pieces. Manager Gareth Southgate favors a 5-3-2 in defense and a 3-5-2 in attack. In this system, England’s wing-backs will be crucial. When defending, the two wing-backs must support their nearest center-back. When attacking, these wing-backs need to push high up the pitch to support players such as Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
England’s Key Players
England have one of the deadliest strikers in the world in Harry Kane. He can score headers, take penalty kicks, link up with his colleagues, act as a poacher, and carve out a shot on target from the most difficult of positions. If Kane brings his shooting boots, he could dig out results for England.
Additionally, Raheem Sterling has developed into an effective player for Manchester City. His willingness to stretch opposition defenses can create chaos for Tunisia. In their recent matches, the Tunisian defenders were dragged out of position when Diego Costa bulldozed his way into threatening areas. While Sterling might not possess Costa’s raw aggression, he can use his speed to do similar damage.
Tunisia’s Key Players
With Youssef Msakni missing the World Cup due to a knee injury, Wahbi Khazri will represent one of Tunisia’s best attacking options. However, Khazri finds himself in a fitness race after enduring a thigh injury. Still, he will likely make an appearance from the bench. The attacking midfielder played well for Rennes while on loan from Sunderland, and he will offer some knowledge of the English game.
Tunisia’s center-back Yohan Benalouane may also prove rather valuable with knowledge of his Leicester City colleagues Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire. If Vardy comes on to the pitch as a substitute, for example, Benalouane might understand his movement better than the other Tunisian defenders.
Tunisia will create a handful of respectable attacking moves, but England will most likely emerge victorious. Of course, anything can happen at the World Cup, and that’s the beauty of this magical tournament.