England vs Tunisia preview, betting tips and prediction

England's trainer Gareth Southgate - Free Bets UK
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For once, expectations are low regarding England’s chances of winning the World Cup. Gareth Southgate’s first major tournament in charge of the England senior team will largely be a free pass provided he avoids humiliation. It’s a team in transition so they’ll be given slack. But anything less than a win against Tunisia could be classed as a humiliating result for a team routinely hounded by their own media outlets for shortcomings on the competitive stage. As Raheem Sterling will attest, it’s not strictly sporting matters that attract tabloid attention.

Harry Kane during training for the first English Match in World Cup 2018 - Free Bets UK

The belief among the England squad itself seems high. Southgate has created a tight-knit group who support his experimental tactics. The Three Lions will set up in a 3-3-2-2 formation. It’s a touch unconventional for an England team but not completely alien to Premier League players, with the likes of Chelsea boss Antonio Conte making wing-backs fashionable again.

Form

Unbeaten in their last ten games, England have performed well against tough opposition in that period. Draws against Germany and Brazil will provide the group with validation that they can indeed compete with the best teams in the competition.

Tunisia have looked strong in the build-up to the tournament. The most eye-catching result of their preparation period was a 2-2 draw with Portugal that saw them fight back from two goals down. Nabil Maaloul’s side might have a shortage of quality but don’t lack fighting spirit.

Team news

Marcus Rashford missed a recent training session due to a knee injury. He will be fit for the opener but is expected to start on the bench with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling leading the attack. In the three-man defence, Harry Maguire will be chosen ahead of Gary Cahill.

Tunisia will be without their star player, Youssef Msakni, in Russia but that would be the case when he damaged ligaments in April. They’ve been experimenting with the line-up ever since and the rejjigged team will probably have Wahbi Khazri playing as a lone frontman.

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