We think they’ll struggle
Tunisia finished top of their World Cup African qualifying group ahead of DR Congo, Libya and Guinea with a record reading four wins and two draws. Impressive, but it was far from a strong pool and they are expected to struggle when things get serious this summer.
The Eagles of Carthage have been drawn in Group G alongside Belgium, England and Panama. A difficult task lies ahead and traders are confident enough to offer up a whopping 1000/1 (Bet Victor) on them winning the competition. Even that won’t be a big enough price to attract too much attention. The same firm have them nailed on at 1/7 to go home after three games and it’s difficult to argue against that.
They open against England in a match you can follow live on BBC from 7.00pm on Monday 18th June. How they handle themselves there will tell us what kind of campaign lies ahead. There’s a chunky 10/1 available about Tunisia winning the match. That tells its own story. Here’s three players who could give England problems…..
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Benalouane is match fit
Taha Yassine Khenissi
Tunisia’s main goal threat according to the market and you’ll find Khenissi priced as favourite to finish as his nation’s leading scorer at this competition. He could win that prize with one or 10 goals. Followers will be paid out as long as he hits the net more times that any of his team mates and that looks a decent bet to keep followers of Tunisia involved in the competition during their Russian stay. Bet Victor’s 4/1 is also easy on the eye.
The 26-year-old striker is currently on the books at ES Tunis – Tunisia’s top club – and scored 22 goals in his first 42 games since arriving in 2015. He’ll face a much sterner test here but is a player with confidence onside and will fancy himself to grab a goal if any crumbs fall his way. Won’t be the busiest player at this tournament so will have to remain switched on if he’s to pounce on the counter-attack and keep England on their toes.
Khenissi’s main rival in the Tunisian top scorer market is fellow forward Youssef Msakni who is available at 5/1 with Bet Victor. The attack-minded player is another who won’t be too familiar to European football fans, but he already has nine goals in 47 call-ups and will be keen to run with the ball at his feet and get his boys up the park and out of danger. Those behind will be up against it in their three group matches, especially vs England and Belgium, so players like Msakni will be invaluable in taking the pressure off.
Scoring a goal or two would certainly rank as a positive. Msakni jets in from Qatar where he has been playing club football for Al-Duhail. His stats make for very interesting reading indeed with the striker bagging 25 goals in 22 games. That makes him one worth keeping an eye on and despite the level he’s been scoring at, Southgate and his defence would be best advised to keep him under wraps early.
Benalouane is a Leicester City employee but has found top-team action hard to come by since signing at the King Power Stadium in 2015. He was sent out to Fiorentina on loan but didn’t get a lot of minutes under his belt in Serie A either. He’ll be eager to put on a show and catch the eye of a few scouts in Russia and hopefully win a move to a club with a more generous manager.
Yohan did feature in The Foxes’ 5-1 FA Cup win over Peterborough earlier this year and pulled a shift vs West Ham in May although that fixture ended in a 2-0 home defeat with little for the beaten side to play for so late in the season. Scored in an under-23 match recently so will be sharp enough despite his lack of match practice. Has been filling in at right-back in a time of need for Leicester and will surely do a job for Tunisia if he’s thrown in.