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Group G - Tunisia Team Review

Started by FastGoal, Jun 05, 2018, 01:09 PM

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Tunisia


FIFA World Ranking: 14
Qualifying Average Goals Per Match: 1.88
Qualifying Average Goals Against Per Match: 0.75
Qualifying Top Scorer: Youssef Msakni (3)
World Cup Best Performance: Group Stage (1978, 1998, 2002 & 2006)

Group G Opponents: Belgium, England and Panama


The Manager: Nabil Maâloul
Capped 74 times by Tunisia as a player, Maâloul has remained closely tied to Tunisian football throughout his managerial career. Vastly experienced in the domestic club game, he has two previous spells as assistant manager of the national side, in addition to taking charge of the Olympic squad in 2003-04. Now having his second shot at the helm of the senior squad, things have gone rather well for him since taking control in April last year, with Tunisia winning five and drawing three of his eight games in charge. Should he maintain this unbeaten run through the Group stages of the World Cup, he may well lead Tunisia into the knockout phases for the first time in their history.


The Squad:
Possibly stronger than Panama's squad on paper, but a world away from the star names who will be representing Belgium and England in this group. Predominantly drawn from the French, Tunisian and Saudi Arabian Leagues, attempts have been made to strengthen the squad by the aggressive recruiting of players with dual nationality, but only with limited success. Montpellier's promising 23 year old midfielder, Ellyes Skhiri, has however now tied his colours to the mast.

Unfortunately for Tunisia they have received an almighty blow in the lead up to the tournament. Top scorer in qualifying and key creative influence Youssef Msakni has been ruled out with a knee injury. Long touted as the type of player who could thrive in a top European league, his loss has been likened to Argentina playing without Lionel Messi. Sadly for Tunisian hopes, that may only be a slight exaggeration.

In the absence of Msakni, the other players in the squad will need to shoulder more of the creative burden. Ex-Sunderland man Wahbi Khazri would be the obvious man to step up to the plate and his form this season for Rennes has certainly been encouraging. Managers namesake Ali Maâloul is another to watch on his frequent bursts forward from the fullback position.

Exactly who is going to get the goals must be a serious concern for the manager though, with regular striker Khenissi now also looking set to miss out through injury.


Star Man: Naim Sliti
Wahbi Khazri is going to need to play well if Tunisia are to have any hope of qualifying. In terms of players with the star quality to make a difference, options are pretty thin on the ground, but one who could prove up to the task is Dijon's Naim Sliti. Direct and fond of a stepover or two, Sliti's first though when receiving the ball is always to attack. His end product needs work at times, but he should at the very least be fun to watch.


Outlook:
Tunisia are only one place behind England in the FIFA rankings and on paper should have a fighting chance of making it through the Group. That injury to Msakni is a tough pill to swallow though and may blunt their attacking thrust sufficiently to see them miss out.


Group G Prediction: 3rd


FastGoal

Tunisia


FIFA World Ranking: 14
Qualifying Average Goals Per Match: 1.88
Qualifying Average Goals Against Per Match: 0.75
Qualifying Top Scorer: Youssef Msakni (3)
World Cup Best Performance: Group Stage (1978, 1998, 2002 & 2006)

Group G Opponents: Belgium, England and Panama


The Manager: Nabil Maâloul
Capped 74 times by Tunisia as a player, Maâloul has remained closely tied to Tunisian football throughout his managerial career. Vastly experienced in the domestic club game, he has two previous spells as assistant manager of the national side, in addition to taking charge of the Olympic squad in 2003-04. Now having his second shot at the helm of the senior squad, things have gone rather well for him since taking control in April last year, with Tunisia winning five and drawing three of his eight games in charge. Should he maintain this unbeaten run through the Group stages of the World Cup, he may well lead Tunisia into the knockout phases for the first time in their history.


The Squad:
Possibly stronger than Panama's squad on paper, but a world away from the star names who will be representing Belgium and England in this group. Predominantly drawn from the French, Tunisian and Saudi Arabian Leagues, attempts have been made to strengthen the squad by the aggressive recruiting of players with dual nationality, but only with limited success. Montpellier's promising 23 year old midfielder, Ellyes Skhiri, has however now tied his colours to the mast.

Unfortunately for Tunisia they have received an almighty blow in the lead up to the tournament. Top scorer in qualifying and key creative influence Youssef Msakni has been ruled out with a knee injury. Long touted as the type of player who could thrive in a top European league, his loss has been likened to Argentina playing without Lionel Messi. Sadly for Tunisian hopes, that may only be a slight exaggeration.

In the absence of Msakni, the other players in the squad will need to shoulder more of the creative burden. Ex-Sunderland man Wahbi Khazri would be the obvious man to step up to the plate and his form this season for Rennes has certainly been encouraging. Managers namesake Ali Maâloul is another to watch on his frequent bursts forward from the fullback position.

Exactly who is going to get the goals must be a serious concern for the manager though, with regular striker Khenissi now also looking set to miss out through injury.


Star Man: Naim Sliti
Wahbi Khazri is going to need to play well if Tunisia are to have any hope of qualifying. In terms of players with the star quality to make a difference, options are pretty thin on the ground, but one who could prove up to the task is Dijon's Naim Sliti. Direct and fond of a stepover or two, Sliti's first though when receiving the ball is always to attack. His end product needs work at times, but he should at the very least be fun to watch.


Outlook:
Tunisia are only one place behind England in the FIFA rankings and on paper should have a fighting chance of making it through the Group. That injury to Msakni is a tough pill to swallow though and may blunt their attacking thrust sufficiently to see them miss out.


Group G Prediction: 3rd


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