Group G of the 2018 World Cup returns on Saturday afternoon when Belgium play Tunisia. Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews Group G's curtain-raiser.
Belgium v Tunisia | Saturday 23rd June 2018, 13:00 | BBC
After struggling to break down Panama in the first-half, Belgium eventually cruised to a 3-0 win thanks to a Romelu Lukaku double.
Tunisia were downed by a late, late Harry Kane goal on Monday evening but it was nothing more than they deserved, after what was a pretty uninspiring performance.
It took Belgium a while to break down Panama on Monday but, in the end, they were well-worth their 3-0 victory. They look comfortable throughout and, with 62% possession, they controlled the game and kept Panama at arm’s length.
I fancied Romelu Lukaku to score against a weak Panama defence and he duly delivered, bagging himself a second-half brace. Eden Hazard has since been quite critical of his former Chelsea teammate, and said: “He'd been hiding a bit up front. But once he got in there, involved in the game, like magic, he scored two.” Lukaku had just 29 touches in the match, and against slightly better opposition, the Manchester United forward will have to get more involved if he wants to add to his World Cup tally.
The three-man defence worked well for Roberto Martinez’s side and, despite not really being challenged by Panama, their clean sheet didn’t look in any danger of being dirtied. It looks like Dedryck Boyata will retain his place at the back and Vincent Kompany will be rested until the knockout stages.
Despite conceding a stoppage-time winner, Tunisia should’ve counted themselves lucky that they were still in the game at half-time. Some suicidal defending and an outrageously high-line let England in on goal time and time again, and they were fortunate to not be punished. You could argue that Belgium are even more dangerous than England in attacking areas, so Nabil Maaloul will have to ensure that his Tunisia side stay tight at the back straight from the off.
I’ve already mentioned the important role that Whabi Khazri plays in this Tunisian side now that Youssef Msakni is unavailable, but he failed to make an impact on the game on Monday. The former Sunderland man will have to step-up for Tunisia if they are to get a result against Belgium.
When looking back at their performance versus England, bar the penalty, Tunisia had very few chances. And with Belgium playing the same formation that Gareth Southgate’s side did on Monday, you’d imagine that Tunisia will struggle to create many chances when they come up against The Red Devils.
Belgium won 6/10 (60%) of their World Cup qualifiers to nil and you can back them at Evens with Ladbrokes to do the same against Tunisia. The Eagles of Carthage had no shots on target from open play against England, and if they are similarly toothless against Belgium, this looks superb value.
Belgium v Tunisia – Belgium to Win to ‘Nil' (1/1 Ladbrokes)