England finally get their World Cup campaign underway tonight when they face Tunisia at the Volgograd Stadium.
It’s no secret that England have suffered through 50 years without any major tournament victories now. In those 50 years, I don’t think there’s ever been less excitement about England’s chances of winning a cup. However, that may have helped as the squad seem to be very calm heading into tomorrow. The lads seem to be in very good spirits as they’ve been training with huge grins on their faces and interacting with fans on Instagram live.
England are not the favourites to win their group, which is a new experience for the squad. Sharing a group with tournament third favourites Belgium seems to have dramatically lowered expectations. They will be expected to win tomorrow and next week against Panama, but most people believe a second place group finish and a round of 16 defeat is England’s destiny.
On the other hand, Tunisia qualified for the tournament and could really test England tomorrow. Southgate’s men will have to be patient in possession as Tunisia are likely to set up very defensively and look to frustrate England.
England and Tunisia Team News
Southgate told the media today that the lads have already been informed of the starting eleven but he didn’t give much indication of what it would be. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any fresh injury concerns as Marcus Rashford remains the only doubt. He will likely start on the bench.
In the Tunisian camp, their main goal threat Wahbi Khazri is fit. Khazri hasn’t played since picking up a thigh injury playing for Rennes back in April. Full back Ali Maaloul is set to be fit after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Gareth Southgate thinks that it’s not just all about the result, it’s also about how well the team play:
“We have been working on a system of play we think suits the players we have available and the style of play we want to implement. Everyone at home wants England to win but they want to see them play well and enjoy their football and that’s what I want as a coach.”
Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul says that his team are in great form, but he wants more from them as he is looking to get a place in Tunisian history:
“We are in form. We know very well we are in an extremely tough group but we have raised our game. Everyone has seen how well we have played in the warm-ups. We are determined to go down in history.”
I think this will be a tight game to be honest, I really can’t see England hammering these boys. As previously stated, Tunisia are decent defensively and will look to frustrate the three Lions. If England are to win convincingly, an early goal could be pivotal.
I’m going for 1-0 England.