In our Tunisia Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Tunisia team. Expect Tunisia to be the surprise package out of Group G!
Tunisia Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha, Moez Hassen, Aymen Mathlouthi
Defenders: Rami Bedoui, Yohan Benalouane, Syam Ben Youssef, Dylan Bronn, Oussama Haddadi, Ali Maaloul, Yassine Meriah, Hamdi Nagguez
Midfielders: Anice Badri, Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, Ghaylene Chaalali, Ahmed Khalil, Saifeddine Khaoui, Ferjani Sassi, Ellyes Skhiri, Naim Sliti, Bassem Srarfi
Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Saber Khalifa, Wahbi Khazri
- Manager: Nabil Maaloul
- Captain: Wahbi Khazri
- Best Finish: Group Stage (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006)
Likely starting lineup
Give Tunisia’s only World Cup win came in the 1978 tournament, the nation has waiting a long time to see this team enjoy success at the competition again. Now 40 years on, manager Nabil Maaloul will be hopeful his group can end that drought.
In three tournaments back-to-back—between 1998 and 2006—Tunisia failed to register three points in any game. Many of this group would’ve grown up watching their compatriots falter under the bright lights of the World Cup and will be desperate to make amends.
While it’s hard to make a case for anyone other than England and Belgium getting out of Group G, Tunisia are the most likely of the two sides remaining to spoil the party.
Maaloul took over the team with four games remaining in qualifying and ensured there were no issues for the Eagles of Carthage, steering them to two wins, two draws and into the finals. In their preparations there have been some positive signs too.
In all three of their recent friendlies there have been bright aspects for Maaloul to take away. A 2-2 draw with Portugal was perhaps the most impressive of the three displays; that was followed by another four-goal draw against Turkey, before Tunisia dug in manfully for long spells before eventually losing 1-0 to a mighty Spain team.
Throughout the matches there’s been no real trend to Tunisia’s play, meaning they’re something of an unknown for the rest of Group G. At times they defend with aggression and intelligence, often they lose concentration; going forward they can appear fabulous for 10 minutes before being lifeless for the next 10.
Little is expected of them, though, and after 40 years without a World Cup victory, Maaloul will surely be targeting the game with Panama as a chance to return home with something to show for their efforts. That’d constitute a successful tournament for them.
Key Man – Wahbi Khazri
There may not be many household names in the Tunisia squad, although one Premier League viewers may remember is Khazri.
After a lively start to his time at Sunderland that included some exceptional goals the forward fell out of favour under David Moyes, much to the dismay of many supporters at the Stadium of Light.
Khazri remains on the Black Cats’ books but spent last season on loan with Rennes. After Sunderland’s relegation to League One last term, it’s unlikely he’ll ever turn out for the Wearside club again.
While there are questions about his commitment and consistency, Khazri is too good for that level and will want to show his class in Russia. There are many occasions when the 27-year-old can infuriate, with his decision making so errant. But he’s Tunisia’s most likely route to goal and someone they’ll be happy to accommodate given his penchant for game-changing moments.
Tunisia’s Group Stage fixtures
Monday, June 18
Saturday, June 23
Thursday, June 28
Tunisia’s path to the final
If Tunisia wins Group G, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group H which will either be Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan. If Tunisia wins that Round of 16 game, Tunisia will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group F (Costa Rica, Brazil, Serbia or Switzerland) and the team that finishes second in Group E (either Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden). If Tunisia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the A1 vs. B2 versus C1 vs. D2 series.
If Tunisia finishes second in Group G, Tunisia will play the team that finishes first in Group H (either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan). If Tunisia wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group F (either Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden) and the team that finishes second in Group E (either Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia or Costa Rica). If Tunisia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the B1 vs. A2 versus D1 vs. C2 series.
Tunisia World Cup shirt (home)
Cheer The Eagles of Carthage, who are making their fourth World Cup appearance, and their first since 2006.
The white home jersey from Uhlsport has red accents on the collar, the cuffs and on the gradient design that runs down the sides. There is a sewn on team badge on the chest. A smaller version of the logo and “Tunisie” are inside the neckline.
Tunisia World Cup shirt (away)
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