Can England start the 2018 World Cup with a win?

Last updated: June 13, 2018 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Monday, 20:00pm
Venue: Volgograd Arena
Coverage: ITV
Home Team Form: WWDWW
Away Team Form: WWDDL
Last Meeting: England 2 – 0 Tunisia
Competition: FIFA World Cup

After months of waiting, the World Cup is finally here. As Russia and Saudi Arabia prepare to head out for the opening match on Thursday, England are preparing for their first match against Tunisia on Monday.

The media buzz around England has, for once, been mostly positive. Impressive results in friendlies and qualifying have led to a ten-game unbeaten streak, meaning England head into the tournament in good form. But this – winning friendlies before capitulating in competitive football – is nothing new for England, so they must still be wary of Tunisia’s counter-attacking threat. Starting with a defeat led to England not even getting out of the group stages last time around and although this is a much easier opponent, the stakes are equally high. England simply cannot fail as they have in recent years.

Jordan Henderson looks set to be selected ahead of Eric Dier in central midfield, although Marcus Rashford, who was hugely impressive in the victory against Costa Rica, is likely to start on the bench. Nevertheless, Rashford could prove a devilishly effective plan B should England need to stretch teams. Southgate faces a conundrum in the left-back position too, where both Danny Rose and Ashley Young have done enough of late to justify selection.

Tunisia head into the group knowing they are underdogs and will have a tough job to qualify. They usually play with three defenders, though it is thought that manager Nabil Maâloul may play five at the back in the tough games against England and Belgium. Avoiding defeat will probably be Tunisia’s goal here, with the aim of beating Panama in the next match. Tunisia are certainly capable of frustrating teams and will play a counter-attacking style spearheaded by Whabi Khazri. This can certainly be effective, so England must be cautious of the pace of Tunisia on the break.

Another danger man could be Skhiri. The youngster had a great season with Montpelier and is expected to play on the right hand side of the attack and is definitely one to watch. His link up play with Khazri will be key if Tunisia is to success against England. Tunisia haven’t made it out of the group stages ever so aren’t the most experienced, but they will take the game to England, who must stay switched on at the back.

Team News

Jordan Henderson looks set to start ahead of Eric Dier in the holding midfielder role.

The most hotly contested spot will be left-back, where both Ashley Young and Danny Rose were impressive in recent matches.

Tunisia will be without Youssef Msakni who has a cruciate ligament injury.

That leaves Tunisia without a real striker and it looks like attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri will play up-front for Tunisia.

Expected Line-Ups:

England (3-4-3): Pickford, Cahill, Maguire, Trippier, Walker, Young, Henderson, Lingard, Alli, Sterling, Kane
Subs: Butland, Rose, Jones, Alexander-Arnold, Dier, Stones, Rashford
Not available:
Tunisia (4-3-3): Mathlouthi, Bronn, Ben Youssef, Meriah, Maâloul, Srarfi, Khaoui, Khazri, Sassi, Badri, Sliti
Subs: Mustapha, Benalouane, Haddadi, Bedoui, Skhiri, Ben Amor, Khalil
Not available:

Head to Head

Last Competitive Meeting Between The Sides
Date Game Result Round First Goal-scorer
02/06/1990 England 1 – 1 Tunisia International Friendly
15/06/1998 England 2 – 0 Tunisia FIFA World Cup Shearer 43′

Conclusion & Betting Tips

These two teams have met twice before, with England winning and drawing once. The Three Lions are big favourites and despite their tendency to choke at World Cups, we still fancy them here.

There isn’t too much value in the win though. With England’s three at the back formation working well, coupled with Tunisia’s limited attacking threat, we think that a clean sheet could be on the cards too. With that in mind, we’ll go for England to win to nil, which you can get at Titan Bet.