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Preview: Tunisia vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, lineups and a full preview of Monday's 2018 World Cup clash between Tunisia and England.

England will begin their 2018 World Cup campaign with a Group G clash against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday night.

The Three Lions also take on Panama and Belgium in the group stage of this summer's competition, and will be looking to get their challenge off to the best possible start with three points.


Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri celebrates scoring their first goal against Costa Rica on March 27, 2018© Reuters

Competing in their first World Cup since 2006, Tunisia will know that they face an uphill task to make it out of a section which includes both England and Belgium.

Tunisia have actually never been out the group stages of a World Cup - falling at the first hurdle in the 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006 competitions, before failing to qualify for either the 2010 and 2014 tournament.

Nabil Maaloul's side have been in strong form in the lead-up to the competition, however, drawing with Portugal and Turkey in friendly matches before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain on June 9.

Panama are expected to lose all three of their group matches, but Tunisia could be out of the running by the time that their third match comes around if they lose to England on Monday night and Belgium next weekend.

Tunisia, who have only won one game at the finals of a World Cup, suffered a huge blow before the competition when it was confirmed that key playmaker Youssef Msakni had suffered a serious knee injury, which ruled him out of the tournament in Russia.

The Eagles of Carthage do have a number of talented footballers fit and present, however, and the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations champions will enter the clash with England knowing that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Recent form: DWWDDL


England manager Gareth Southgate on June 2, 2018© Reuters

Looking to avoid a repeat of their embarrassing group-stage exit four years ago, England will open their 2018 World Cup challenge with a potentially tricky match against Tunisia on Monday night.

There is no question that Gareth Southgate's side are the favourites to collect all three points, but they will be wary of the challenge that Tunisia could provide in Volgograd.

Belgium open Group G with a clash against Panama on Monday afternoon, and there could well be pressure on England to win by the time that they take to the field. That said, it would be a huge surprise if the Three Lions failed to make it out of this particular section.

England reached the quarter-finals of both the 2002 and 2006 competitions, but exited the 2010 World Cup in the round of 16, before failing to make it out of the group stage in Brazil back in 2014.

It has been said that there is no pressure on Southgate's side this summer, but another group-stage exit would be a huge disappointment for a side packed full of youth and energy.

England beat Nigeria and Costa Rica in their two friendlies before this summer's competition, and they have not actually lost a single match since a 3-2 defeat to France in June 2017.

Preparations have been strong, and there does seem to be an air of confidence as England look to make their mark in Russia.

Matches against Panama and Belgium will follow before the group stage comes to a close, but England will be desperate to open with a strong victory against a Tunisia side certainly capable of causing a stir.

Recent form: DDWDWW

Team News

Harry Maguire in action for England on June 7, 2018© Reuters

Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri has not played since injuring his thigh while on loan at Rennes in April, but the Tunisia captain is confident of being fit for the clash with England.

Experienced goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi should start between the sticks, while Ferjani Sassi and Ellyes Skhiri are also expected to make the Tunisia team on Monday night.

A potential England XI has been leaked in recent days, and it appears that Ashley Young has been given the nod to start over Danny Rose at left wing-back, while Jordan Henderson will seemingly edge out Eric Dier in the middle of the park.

Harry Maguire is in line for a start as one of the three centre-backs, with Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling working behind Three Lions captain Harry Kane.

Marcus Rashford is expected to be fit following a knee problem, meanwhile, although the Manchester United attacker should start on the bench.

Tunisia possible starting lineup:
Mathlouthi; Bronn, Syam Ben Youssef, Meriah, Ali Maaloul; Skhiri, Sassi, Khaoui; Badri, Khazri, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Lingard, Alli, Young; Sterling, Kane

Head To Head

Monday night will be just the third ever meeting between Tunisia and England in international football.

The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in an international friendly back in June 1990, but England won 2-0 when they locked horns in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup, with Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes scoring the goals.

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We say: Tunisia 0-2 England

Tunisia are certainly capable of causing England problems, but Southgate's side have been in impressive recent form. We fancy the Three Lions to open their World Cup challenge with a comfortable 2-0 success.

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Who will win the World Cup Group G clash between Tunisia and England?

England midfielder Jordan Henderson in action during his side's international friendly with Spain at Wembley on November 15, 2016
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