Tunisia entered the 2018 World Cup knowing that they would need to get a result against either England or Belgium to have any chance of progressing to the second round for the first time in their history. While their qualification campaign was basically flawless, the step up from African to European opposition has never gone favourably for the Northern Africans, who have not won any of their last twelve Cup matches.
Belgium were ruthless during qualification, scoring 43 goals in ten matches to ensure they would coast to the 2018 tournament. While it could be argued that they had one of the more simple groups to navigate, there’s no doubting their class and quality. Belgium boast one of the most talented squads at the World Cup, and there’s no question that they have their sights on bettering their 2014 quarter-final appearance.
Tunisia enter the tournament as the highest-placed African nation according to the FIFA rankings, although these are notorious for being inaccurate. There’s no doubting Belgium’s ranking though – they are currently a top five nation and should cruise to victory in this match.
Belgium were mature and patient against Panama before coasting to a 3-0 victory. We are expecting more of the same against Tunisia, who were good against England but not quite good enough.
Belgium’s favouritism is apparent when you look at the odds available for this match. Although not the shortest-priced favourite we’ve seen at the tournament so far, the -362 on offer is indicative of the gulf between the two sides. Tunisia start at huge outsiders (+900), while the draw is available at +453 and is the only serious alternative to consider.
Both teams will have plenty to play for in this match. Belgium know that anything less than a win could leave them vulnerable as they move on to face fellow European giants England, while the Tunisians could be eliminated if they fail to secure a point in this match. While they still have Panama to come up against, there will be little incentive if their tournament is already over.
Unfortunately for the Africans, this one looks to be over before it begins. Belgium are far too strong and should win this in a canter. The only question here is how many goals the Belgians will score. We’re predicting a 3-0 victory.