For their very first game in the 2018 World Cup, England will face off with Tunisia. The game will take place at 7pm (UK Time) at the Volgograd Arena. This first game will be decisive as England needs to get as many points as possible to make sure to appear in the knock out stage. A repeat of the 2014 group stage eviction would be terrible for the team and the country.
John Barnes’ Take On The Game
It was a fantastic performance in the first half, you know, we could have scored three or four goals, were playing really well.
They equalised through a penalty that shouldn’t have been a penalty, however then how do we respond to that? I’ve always said, when things don’t go our way, how do we come back from that? So the 2nd half wasn’t as good but at least they showed the resilience to score in the last minute.
I always say, if England play well and they’re scoring goals or they’re playing well and dominating teams then they can beat anybody.
But as soon as things don’t go their way, with this young and inexperienced side, how are they going to come out of that?
And, up until the last 5 minutes in the 2nd half… up until they scored the goal, it was a fairly even game.
But that comes from the inexperience of the team, not knowing how to come out of adversity – however, they showed that resilience to stick into the end and score the winner, so that will be a good learning curve for them.
It would be great if they won 3 or 4-0 and played well – they wouldn’t learn much from that.
But at least they showed good belief and resilience.
Well, I think Maguire did well at the back. I don’t think anyone really stood out. We were wasteful in front of goal, Sterling was ok.
And apart from Harry’s two goals, in open play, there wasn’t much. So I wouldn’t have said it was the greatest individual performance, no one really stood out.
But, it was a good team performance.
(Any concerns?) No, not really. They were a little bit slack at the back. They gave Tunisia a couple of half chances, but no, Tunisia didn’t do a lot coming forward – there are no concerns. I know what the concerns are when you play better teams. Defensively and in midfield in terms of protecting the back 3, playing against Brazil for example. But they didn’t have to show that against Tunisia because Tunisia didn’t play with enough adventure to cause them problems. Just going off the first game, there aren’t any concerns.
But there are concerns because you know when you play against better teams they will cause more problems. It’s not as if all of a sudden, England are going to get better defensive midfield players, they can’t do anything. This is the team they are, this is the way they play. They just have to try and work hard as a team defensively to protect the back 3 when they haven’t got the ball. So, from a personal point of view, or a tactical point of view, they’re not really going to change or do anything differently but they just have to work hard defensively. They didn’t have to yesterday, because they were playing against Tunisia, but against Brazil, you’d expect Lingard, Sterling and Dele Alli to get back and protect the back 3 more than they would normally.
The first game is always going to be difficult, because the first game, no matter who you are (of course Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0), but generally speaking, no matter who you are you’re playing with confidence – this is your first game of the World Cup – and you haven’t had the disappointment of being hammered, losing and not playing well. So the first game generally everyone does well, so after the first game is when you see everything settle down, even from a positive point of view in terms of the good teams playing better than they are, but it’s more about how the smaller teams do in the first game.
Panama was a poor team. Belgium made hard work of it – they won 3-0 in the end. I’m glad it went this way, in terms of beating Tunisia who would be a harder opposition because, had England beaten Panama in the first game Tunisia would have been a harder game, and Belgium an even harder game. So the fact that they’ve got the 2nd hardest game out of the way, come through unscathed and they won means that I expect them to go on and comfortably beat Panama which means that they’re through and then, of course, it would be great to beat Belgium or get a result, but the main thing is to beat Panama and go through.
I will go for 3-0 England. I don’t like to put up predictions, but I think we’ll create enough chances to score 3 or 4 goals. Put it this way, I saw enough in the Belgium game to know that we will create as many, if not more, chances than Belgium did.
Betting on the England vs Tunisia Game
The odds are greatly in favour of England winning the game. Despite England’s lacklustre performances over the last four years, Tunisia should be a beatable opponent. Tunisia never went beyond the group stage in World Cups and is qualified for the first time in three competitions. Fans will remember the 1998 England vs Tunisia game during which England won 2-0. Gareth Southgate was then a member of the squad he now leads. Let’s hope his presence will bring a new victory to the Three Lions.
England Winning Against Tunisia Betting Odds
|England vs Tunisia||England Win||1/3*|
|England vs Tunisia||England Win||6/17*|
*Odds at the time of writing. Subject to change.