Tunisia look to bounce back against Belgium

Tunisia look to bounce back against Belgium
epa06819775 Dele Alli (R) of England and Ferjani Sassi of Tunisia in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group G preliminary round soccer match between Tunisia and England in Volgograd, Russia, 18 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jun 22, 2018. 09:31

Tunisia will look to bounce back from their opening defeat in the 2018 World Cup when they take on Belgium in a Group G clash at the Otkritie Stadium in Moscow, set for Saturday, June 23, kick-off at 14h00 CAT.

Belgium got their campaign off to a great start on Monday evening, trouncing debutants Panama 3-0 in Sochi thanks to goals from Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku (two). The result sees the ‘Red Devils’ at the top of the pool on three points.

Coach Roberto Martinez will have been pleased at the display, though marginally concerned that his side was unable to find a way through the ‘Los Canaleros’ defence through all of the first half. Yet once the deadlock was broken, Belgium looked far more fluid and comfortable.

They will probably need to be patient again when they tackle Tunisia, a side with a reputation for being well-organised in defence. Yet despite this, the North Africans succumbed 2-1 in their opening game against England in Volgograd.

Harry Kane scored both of England’s goals at corner kick scenarios, while Tunisia’s strike came from Ferjani Sassi’s debatable penalty.

Coach Nabil Maaloul will want to see his side improve on their defending at set plays, while it’s also likely that goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mutspaha will start the game after replacing the injured Mouez Hassen.

The ‘Carthage Eagles’ will need more from their midfield and attack, in particular Wahbi Khazri. The attacker has only just come back from injury and looked sluggish against England – hopefully he has blown out the cobwebs and will be back to top form for the clash with the Belgians.

The European danger men can be found in their three-pronged attack: Mertens, Lukaku and Eden Hazard. While the latter was the only one not to score a goal against Panama, he still provided an assist and gave a demonstration of his running power – something Tunisia’s backline will need to keep a close watch on.

In head-to-head terms, Belgium and Tunisia have met in three previous matches according to FIFA’s statistics database. The record is dead even: one win each, one draw, three goals scored apiece. Their one World Cup match was a 1-1 draw in Oita in 2002, while their most recent meeting saw Belgium win 1-0 in a friendly in Brussels in June 2014.

Belgium v Tunisia – head-to-head

Matches played 3

Belgium wins 1

Tunisia wins 1

Draws 1

Belgium goals 3

Tunisia goals 3

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