WorldCupAcca Confirmed Squad:
Keeper: F. Ben Mustapha, M. Hassen, A. Mathlouthi
Defence: R. Bedoui, Y. Benalouane, S. Ben Youssef, D. Bronn, O. Haddadi, A. Maalouly. Meriah, H. Nagguez
Midfield: A. Badri, M. Amine Ben Amor, G. Chaalali, A. Khalil, S. Khaoui, F. Sassi, E. Skhiri, N. Sliti, B. Srarfi
Forward: F. Ben Youssef, S. Khalifa, W. Khazri
Tunisia will be making their return to the World Cup for the first time since 2006. They made their first appearance in 1978 and then had 3 successive tournaments between ‘98 and ‘06.
They only won one match to date, a 3-1 victory over Mexico in ‘78, with this in mind it comes as no surprise that they have never gotten past the group stages, finishing 3rd in Group G is probably their best bet this time round.
Tunisia qualified from what was probably the weakest group in African qualifying facing DR Congo, Libya and Guinea but they are coming into the tournament with injury and fitness concerns for some key players, they will have to be 100% at it every game to have any chance of getting to the last 16.
Recent friendlies have been encouraging for them though, successive 1-0 victories earlier in the year against Iran and Costa Rica were followed up with 2-2 draws against Portugal and Turkey, before a narrow 1-0 loss to Spain, with Iago Aspas popping up with a goal 6 minutes from time.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
We touched on Tunisia’s injury concerns earlier on, Wahbi Khazri is regarded as key to Tunisia’s hopes of making an impact in Russia. However, he has missed out on 3 World Cup warm-up matches in a row with a thigh strain, raising major question marks over his readiness for this month’s tournament.
The Stade Rennes forward, on loan from English side Sunderland, has not played since the end of April, missing Rennes’ last three games of the Ligue 1 season and has apparently been training apart from the rest of the squad at their base in Switzerland.
They are a team without any real stars, but they boast several talented midfielders who should be well placed to hold their own against Belgium and England in their opening two fixtures. The trio of Ferjani Sassi, Mohamed Amine Ben Amor and Ghaylen Chaaleli offer balance, discipline and energy and will look to ensure that Tunisia remain competitive, though the latter two are also fitness concerns.
Mathlouthi will start in goal behind a back four of Nagguez, Meriah, S. Ben Youssef and Maaloul all of which make up a solid base and will hope to grind out any positive results they can manage, however goals are the big problem – they scored just 11 in their 6 qualifiers, 4 of which came in 1 game.
The loss of Youssef Msakni, the top scorer in the current set-up, is a bitter blow for the player and his country and denies Tunisia of their chief goal threat.
Assuming Khazri will be fit to start, he’ll line up on the wings along with Sliti where they will hope to supply Fakhreddine Ben Youssef or Taha Yassine Khenissi, one of whom will instead operate as the lone forward.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
Belgium are arguably the best team in world football, with quality in virtually every area and could be genuine contenders to win the tournament. Thibaut Courtois in goal, is one of the top 5 keepers around at the moment, plus the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Vincent Kompany as the back 3, all are leading defenders in the Premier League.
Kevin De Bruyne is possibly the best midfielder in the world at the moment and Eden Hazard is another of the top talents in world football. Iin Romelu Lukaku they also have a goalscoring machine who will be a constant threat for any team he comes up against.
England are coming into the squad with a young squad and little expectations, question marks over their first choice keeper and still playing a relatively new system, for one of the “big” nations they possess what is on paper a very ordinary team.
However, they have shown themselves to be no pushovers – qualifying is a pretty much always a certaintainty, finishing unbeaten this time round in what was a fairly weak group, they only conceded 3 goals, 2 of which were against Scotland.
Even in recent friendly matches, they have secured draws with Germany, Brazil and Italy as well as a victory over Netherlands.
England do possess one legitimate star in Harry Kane and along with other attacking options like Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford they will be a threat going forward, Jesse Lingard has also had a very good season with Manchester United and often steps up on the big stages.
Panama are in a similar boat to Tunisia. Making their World Cup debuts this year.
Their qualification came with some controversy, they finished third in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round after a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, they were a goal behind as they were awarded a corner, the ball came into the box, deflecting off of Gabriel Torres and striking the inside of the far post.
Striker Blas Perez, his shirt being pulled fell to the ground as the ball bounced off his shoulder before coming to rest on the goal line. He tried to get the ball across, but Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita, kicked the ball off of Perez and out of play on the other side of the post.
However, referee Walter Lopez of Guatemala gave the goal, and though Costa Rica complained that the ball never crossed the line, the goal stood. Panama went on to score a winning goal in the 87th minute to secure their spot in Russia at the expense of both Honduras and the United States.
Anything other than finishing bottom of Group G can be considered as something to build on for Panama here. The best they can hope for is some good performances and the younger players in the squad getting some decent experience for any future tournaments.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group G Fixtures / Results
|Sochi – June 18, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Volgograd – June 18, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Spartak Stadium – June 23, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Nizhny Novgorod – June 24, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Kaliningrad – June 28, 2018 8:00 pm|
|Saransk – June 28, 2018 9:00 pm|
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