Following disappointments in recent major international tournaments, England are back again on the world stage hoping a new era will usher in better results. Manager Gareth Southgate has announced a youthful side that has loads of pace, but there are still many question surrounding the Three Lions as they enter Russia 2018.
To start, they’ve been gifted with a pretty easy group. In Group G, they’ll go toe-to-toe with Belgium, but not until the last match. In the meantime, they’ll occupy themselves with minnows in Panama, and on Monday afternoon, Tunisia. Neither side should give England trouble, though this is a country with many demons to exorcise over past major soccer failures. Beating Tunisia convincingly would certainly calm some doubts and give a young England group confidence going forward.
Tunisia enters Russia 2018 likely just happy to get back to the world stage. They’ve ended a 12-year drought by being at the World Cup, and though they’ve never seen their way past the group stage, the Eagles of Carthage believe they have a team that can trouble their English counterparts.
It is always thrilling when England are involved at the world Cup, because of all the hype and storylines that follow them – especially in North America with the U.S.A. not qualifying. Many feel this time around should bring success for the Three Lions, but nothing is guaranteed at these shortened tournaments. Can they get off on the right foot? Read on below to find out – featuring a tactical preview and a betting prediction for England/Tunisia.
England vs. Tunisia Betting Odds:
Over 2.5 (+120)
Under 2.5 (-140)
England vs. Tunisia Pick:
After a pathetic group stage exit four years ago in Brazil, the English look poised to change the narrative surrounding their failures at Russia 2018. In fact, only five players from Brazil were named to this year’s squad – as a ton of youth and skill have since entered the fold. It’s all part of a new era of English football for the Three Lions, and they’ll look to get off to a roaring start on Monday vs. Tunisia.
England comfortably disposed of both Nigeria and Costa Rica in the lead-up to the World Cup, and both of those squads are arguably of more quality than their Tunisian opponents. Gareth Southgate has come into the side and provided the required leadership that puts an emphasis on team success opposed to individual agendas and egos. They’re blessed with a ton of skill and pace in the side. Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane up top provide a nice scoring bunch, and Kyle Walker and John Stones will do a good job of solidifying the back. Southgate has them very tight at the back, rarely conceding during qualifying. One area where the English may be lacking is with the quality within their midfield. They’ll be asking an awful lot from Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli to both win balls and distribute to Kane and Sterling if they are to score at Russia 2018.
Tunisia on the other hand should provide more resistance than a team like Panama – but not much. They squeaked through the relatively weak African qualifying tournament, and while they have some good pieces – like many of these smaller sides, it’s not nearly enough to compete meaningfully against a deep squad like the English. Making matters worse for Tunisia is the fact that their top player, Wahbi Khazri from Sunderland, hasn’t played since April due to a thigh injury. He’s vowed to be ready for England, but if he can’t spearhead the Tunisian attack, they’re not equipped to withstand an English onslaught for ninety minutes.
This English side is different than previous version. They are young, hungry, fast, and skilled. It’s a new era for the Three Lions and they’ll be keen to show it on the world stage. Tunisia will be competitive in stretches, but ultimately the English skill and speed out wide will give Tunisia fits. Look for Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard to run all over the Tunisians, and provide excellent service to Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling at the top. England are rightful heavy favorites, but on a -1 line they make a ton of sense. If they win by one – you push your wager, and they win by two – you will head to the winner’s circle. In a group where goal differential very likely will matter, look for England to definitely win by one, and very likely two goals – as they cruise to a comfortable opening victory vs. Tunisia.
MY PICK = England -1 (-130)