The second game of the Group G between Tunisia and England will take place at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 18th. The Eagles of Carthage are the underdogs in this group along with Panama, so getting a point against the Three Lions would be a big deal for them, while England must start the competition with a win if they want to fight for the first place in the group.
Tunisia vs. England
Three-Way: 1: Tunisia +900; X: +375 Draw; 2: England -303 at BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread +1.5: Tunisia -156; England +120
Total 2.5 goals: Over +110; Under -143
The Eagles of Carthage qualified to the World Cup for the fifth time in the nation’s history, and after appearing in three consecutive tournaments between 1998 and 2006, Tunisia failed to qualify to the previous two competitions. They never progressed to the Round of 16 and it’s going to be tough this time around as well, so the third place in the group G should be Tunisia’s final position.
Nabil Maâloul has one of the youngest teams in the tournament as only three players are in their thirties, and although they aren’t very experienced, Tunisia’s players developed a great chemistry, which was visible in the latest friendly matches.
The vice-captain Wahbi Khazri is the country’s biggest star at the moment and he is also the team’s top scorer, so I expect that every attacking play will revolve around the No. 10. The midfielder who can play on both flanks or behind strikers is one of seven players who are earning their money in France, while the rest of them are mainly playing in the domestic championship.
Tunisia is in a surprisingly good form as they didn’t suffer a defeat in the previous nine games, despite facing such a renowned team as Portugal. The Eagles of Carthage showed great fighting spirit after trailing 2-0 early in the tilt and managed to stay unbeaten with a couple of goals through forwards Anice Badri and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, so England must not underestimate the hard-working Tunisians.
The Three Lions made it to the 14th World Cup and sixth in a row, but following a disastrous display four years ago in Brazil when they failed to record a single win and ended the competition in the group stage, England must improve now as the pressure of the fans and press is enormous. Since they won at the WC in 1966 when they hosted the tournament, England never won the medal and their best result was the fourth position in Italy 1990.
Gareth Southgate didn’t have plenty of luck with injuries of key players prior to the World Cup so he was left without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and when everybody thought he will call Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana or even Jonjoe Shelvey to strengthen the midfield, Southgate opted for inexperienced Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
That decision was quite confusing, especially considering that England has only two holding midfielders, Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier, so in case one of them suffers an injury, the young Loftus-Cheek would be under a lot of pressure. Still, the defense and the attack are looking strong as the Three Lions have Harry Kane to lead the line with Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli behind him, while the defense displayed some great performances recently.
Gary Cahill and John Stones will probably start in the heart of the defense, while Kyle Walker and Ashley Young, who had a solid season at Man United at the left-back, should cover the full-back positions. The decision not to call Joe Hart opened up the goalkeeper spot to Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford, so it is still unknown who is going to get the start against Tunisia.
England is undefeated in the last nine games even though they faced Germany, Brazil, Holland, and Italy in the past few months, while they won the most recent friendly over Nigeria as Cahill and Kane scored in a 2-1 victory.
This will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams as the only previous occurred at the World Cup in France 1998, when England was victorious, 2-0. I expect a similar result this time around, but Tunisia proved they are a strong side and will surely not be pushovers here, so the Three Lions must be patient and minimize defensive errors, and I am sure the three points will come. Still, I am not sure whether the Tunisians will score here, and I don’t think England will score more than two, so under is looking like a good option.
The Pick: Under 2.5 goals (-143)