Khazri and Tunisia eye up England for potential World Cup scalp

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England and Belgium are widely expected to dominate proceedings in Group G at the World Cup.

Roberto Martinez’s men are 1/16 to qualify from the group, with the Three Lions priced at 1/7 to make it through to the last-16 stage.

According to our traders, it’s a two-horse race. But we think it could be a bit too early to rule 9/2 shots Tunisia out of the equation.

The Eagles of Carthage are warming up for the tournament in Russia in some style. They’re currently on an impressive eight-game unbeaten run and recently held Portugal to a 2-2 draw in Braga.

Nabil Maaloul’s men are dangerous. And they could give England a scare in the opener at odds of 9/1.

Why? Well, they have a decent level of quality running through the team.

Almost half the likely starting XI plies their trade in Europe. Bassem Srarfi, Ellyes Skhiri, Saif-Eddine Khaoui and Wahbi Khazri are all regulars in Ligue 1.

Khazri, in particular, will be familiar to English football fans following his stint with Sunderland.

Although the Black Cats were relegated with him in the side last season, his initial impact at the Stadium of Light helped the North-East club remain in the Premier League under Sam Allardyce during the 2015-16 campaign.

He helps form part of a technically very good midfield which could cause England, Belgium and Panama significant problems.

Up-front, forwards Saber Khalifa, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Ahmed Akaichi boast 119 caps between them and will have the measure of a largely inexperienced England backline.

Defensively they’re pretty sound too, having kept four clean sheets in their last eight games.

Against a Three Lions side which has scored just five goals in their last five World Cup matches, they’ll fancy their chances.

And in reality, it’s Gareth Southgate’s men that the African qualifiers will be targeting.

England have drawn with Costa Rica and Algeria at the last two World Cups. Maaloul and co will know that if they can take a point (at the very least) from the opener, they’ll be in business.

All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the University of East Anglia where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper Concrete. He also supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Other passions include darts, cricket and horse racing.