Big Match Breakdown: Tunisia v England
Odds and tips for Three Lions’ opener
The wait is finally over. After all the build-up, and all the preparation, England get their World Cup campaign underway against Tunisia tonight.
Instead of the hype that usually surrounds England heading into a big tournament, there’s a quiet confidence about Gareth Southgate’s team this time around.
Will they get off to a good start in Volgograd? The Coral News Team have all the key info ahead of the game…
The only previous meeting between these two nations came in the Group Stage of the 1998 World Cup. Goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes secured a 2-0 England win in Marseille.
England come into this game on the back of a 10-game unbeaten run – a streak that goes back to last June.
Tunisia had gone nine games without defeat before losing 1-0 to Spain in their final warm-up game.
Southgate told his players his planned starting XI well in advance to ease any nerves.
According to reports, Jordan Pickford will get the nod over Jack Butland in goal. Ashley Young will start ahead of Danny Rose on the left. Jordan Henderson will play the holding role behind Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling is set to partner Harry Kane up front.
English fans will know Wahbi Khazri can pose a threat from out wide, but the Sunderland man could start up front for Tunisia. His lack of defensive awareness could be exploited out wide. However, his quality on the ball means they need to find a place for him.
He’ll likely be supported by Saif-Eddine Khaoui, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Anice Badri.
Tunisia will make it very hard for England to break them down. The Three Lions should dominate possession, but there’ll be little space for the likes of Sterling and Alli to exploit.
That may be a big factor in why Young has been favoured over Rose. Young is the only recognised set-piece taker in the expected starting line-up. Dead-ball situations could help England unlock the Tunisian defence.
Tunisia will also look to cause problems with set-pieces of their own. England will need to be wary of giving Khazri the chance to take a free shot at goal. It could cost them.
The European side have kept clean sheets in six of their last outings. They’ll expect to be on the front foot here too. England to Win to Nil is Evens.
Tunisia won’t give away too many chances though. They’re the highest-ranked African side in Russia (21) and will be well drilled by Nabil Maaloul. Under 1.5 Goals is 9/5, while Under 2.5 Goals is priced at 6/10.
Kane is England’s biggest goal threat. After a poor showing at Euro 2016, the newly-appointed captain will be determined to make his mark on the tournament. He’s 23/10 to break the deadlock and 3/4 to bag anytime.
Sterling is 13/10 to carry his impressive scoring form at club level onto the big stage.
Khazri and Ben Youssef are both 7/2 to score anytime for the underdogs.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing