England will have the luxury of easing into their World Cup campaign as they face Tunisia and Panama in their opening two matches, neither of whom are likely to cause the one-time World Cup winners any major problems. Mind you, England’s recent record at the World Cup has been below-par, and this is the type of matchup that will still have fans nervous ahead of kickoff.
Tunisia are making their fifth appearance at a World Cup, and their first since 2006. They went undefeated through their qualification campaign, and will bring a decent amount of form and confidence into this fixture despite having won just one of their twelve World Cup matches to date.
England too were excellent in qualifying, also going undefeated as they cruised to their sixth consecutive finals appearance. Remarkably, England have only lost three World Cup qualification matches this century, and if you throw in their European Championships qualification matches their record is 64 wins and just 6 losses. It is astounding that they have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals during this time.
Tunisia will have to produce something special to get anything out of this match. In 8 matches against European opponents at the World Cup, the Northern African nation is yet to taste victory, and you have to go back to 2006 to find their last victory over a European nation (Belarus).
England can walk this in, with complacency their biggest hurdle. They unsurprisingly start as firm favourites, paying -264 for the victory. Tunisia start as big outsiders at +800, while the draw can be obtained for +353.
You can’t go past England in this match, there’s just no way that we can see Tunisia stealing any of the three points away from them. Our prediction is a comfortable 2-0 victory for the English, who will progress to the second round, while Tunisia’s only hope for points is in their last match against Panama.