THERE is little doubt that Belgium and England are the star turns in Group G following the World Cup draw.
Panama, in the meantime, ought to present loads of intrigue given it’s their first look on the finals. After which there’s Tunisia.
The Eagles of Carthage make their return to the World Cup for the primary time in 12 years – Russia 2018 would be the fifth event they’ll full at soccer’s showpiece occasion.
Their goal can be to make it previous the group stage for the primary time, nevertheless, that may be a robust ask given the standard of two of their opponents.
However the World Cup is legendary for shocks and Tunisia do have a gifted facet, even when most of the gamers can be unknown to nearly all of European soccer supporters.
It’s why we requested our pals at Soccer Whispers to profile Tunisia and assess what menace they might pose to the Three Lions.
How did they qualify?
Tunisia went unbeaten all through qualifying, though they didn’t must face most of the conventional sturdy African sides.
They overcame Mauritania, 99th within the FIFA rankings, Four-2 on mixture in qualifying spherical two earlier than getting into a gaggle during which they confronted off with 66th-ranked Guinea, 77th-ranked Libya and the more difficult 34th-ranked DR Congo.
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Dwelling and away video games in opposition to the latter have been anticipated to resolve the group, and so it proved. Tunisia prevented defeat over their six video games and recorded a significant 2-1 house win over the Leopards by way of objectives from Yassine Meriah and Ghaylene Chaalali.
The Eagles of Carthage then claimed a dramatic 2-2 attract DR Congo and that time finally proved sufficient for the nation to seal high spot of their group.
All through the qualifying marketing campaign Tunisia proved themselves to be tactical versatile, one thing which ought to profit them in Russia.
Of their ultimate 4 qualifiers, three completely different methods have been used to swimsuit the circumstances of the sport.
At house to DR Congo, they performed a Four-Three-Three form designed to stifle the guests after which be scientific after they pushed ahead. It labored and Tunisia secured the very important win they wanted.
Eager to keep away from defeat within the return fixture, they set-up in a 5-Three-2 formation and managed to say a 2-2 draw and essential level.
A extra attacking Four-Three-Three was utilised away at Guinea and resulted in a Four-1 win, whereas Tunisia performed Four-2-Three-1 of their ultimate sport at house Libya, the place a Zero-Zero draw was sufficient to ship them by way of.
With the ability to adapt to completely different methods might show very important if Tunisia have any hope of overcoming Belgium and England, and also you’d count on an attacking line-up in opposition to Panama when the 2 face off.
Tunisia’s gamers additionally demonstrated throughout their group that they’ve a strong-mentality that ought to serve them properly in Russia. They bought the outcomes they wanted when below stress, by no means extra so than within the away match to DR Congo.
The Eagles of Carthage have been two objectives behind with 13 minutes to play however struck twice in 180 seconds to show the sport and safe a helpful level in opposition to their rivals for high spot.
Scan by way of the Tunisia facet and there are few recognisable names to the informal European soccer fan. That’s as a result of their squad is made up of gamers who play their membership soccer in Tunisia.
And whereas it will be flawed to underestimate the league, it would imply Tunisia could have a facet in Russia that’s inexperienced in opposition to high quality opposition. That’s more likely to be telling.
It’s not possible to curb the specter of the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane with out having the information of how world class gamers function – studying the motion and refined indicators is essential to stopping their affect.
It’s why Marseille’s Aymen Abdennour can be very important for Tunisia in attempting to limit Belgium and England. The centre-back has that high degree know-how and must be the organiser in defence.
As talked about above, Abdennour can be vital to the defensive facet of Tunisia’s sport but when they’re to have any hope of creating out of the group then the Africans will want a goalscorer.
Youssef Msakni isn’t a family title, however the versatile ahead has been rejuvenated over the course of Tunisia’s qualifying marketing campaign and is probably going to offer his facet’s menace in Russia.
Seven of his 14 worldwide objectives have come up to now 18 months and he netted a hat-trick within the Four-1 win in Guinea. The 27-year-old performs his membership soccer in Qatar, who will host the 2022 World Cup, the place he captains high flight facet Al-Duhail.
Tunisia’s different stand-out menace, and a person identified to Premier League followers, is Wahbi Khazri. The Sunderland winger is at the moment on mortgage in Ligue 1 with Rennes and is rediscovering his finest type after a tough 2016/17 season with the doomed Black Cats.
Khazri was largely sidelined by David Moyes however has confirmed his high quality in France. In his seven Ligue 1 appearances this time period he has 4 objectives. For Tunisia he has netted 11 occasions in 33 outings and has the standard to unlock defences.
Few know Tunisian soccer in addition to Nabil Maaloul. He performed for his nation on 74 events, was assistant coach in 2004 after they received the African Cup of Nations and is now in his second spell answerable for the nationwide facet.
He’s but to style defeat since returning to the submit in April, overseeing three victories and two attracts, and is a confirmed winner a membership degree.
In 2011 he received the treble with Espérance Sportive de Tunis, which included victory within the CAF Champions League.