England vs Tunisia, World Cup 2018: What time is kick-off tonight, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?

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Harry Kane is in buoyant mood after a strong season for Tottenham - can he lead England to victory over Wahbi Khazri and Tunisia? - Getty Images

What is it?

It is England vs Tunisia, the first match for Gareth Southgate's side at the 2018 World Cup.

After plenty of talk about a positive atmosphere and a relaxed look to this England squad, we get a chance to see the team under tournament pressure.

Gareth Southgate's men will be attempting to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that has plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb.

It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England may have won the 1966 World Cup, but have only reached the semi-finals of a tournament twice since then. Will it change this time around?

When is it?

Monday, June 18, 2018 - ie tonight.

Where is it?

At the Volgograd Arena, in Volgograd.

England vs Tunisia, World Cup 2018 | How long until kick-off?

What time is kick-off?

It's a 7pm BST start, so make sure to get home from work in good time.

What TV channel is it on?

The BBC and ITV are sharing coverage of the World Cup, but BBC have rights to the first England match. You can watch their build-up on BBC One from 6.15pm.

Alternatively, you can follow this match - and all 64 across the tournament - live here with Telegraph Sport.

You can find more details on how to watch England vs Tunisa in our handy guide.

Latest team news England

England's Fabian Delph is ready to miss a World Cup match to be at the birth of his third child.

All eyes are on Monday's Group G opener against Tunisia in Volgograd, with Gareth Southgate's squad made aware of his intended starting line-up two days early.

Delph did not give away whether he got the nod but is ready to forego a starting role this summer in order to be by wife Natalie's side.

It is hard to remember a similar scenario with England at a major tournament, but the midfielder's partner is due to give birth on June 30 - just two days after the final Group G match against Belgium.

"I don't think it would affect me mentally," Delph said.

"Obviously I'd have to get back to England and then get back again, so that's obviously not ideal but it's part of life.

"I'm about to have my third child and I'm not going to miss it if I can help it, but I want to get back as fast as I can, so we'll have to see."

England probable (3-5-2): Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Lingard, Henderson, Dele, Young, Sterling, Kane

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Tunisia

Tunisia will field key players Wahbi Khazri and Ali Maaloul in their opening World Cup game against England on Monday after the pair were declared fit as the squad on Saturday headed to Volgograd for their Group G clash.

Khazri, who will likely lead the attack, had not played since the end of the Ligue 1 season in France where he had suffered a thigh strain in action for Stade Rennes.

Maaloul, whose overlapping runs are also key to Tunisia’s attacking hopes, had been injured playing in last week’s friendly against Spain in Krasnodar but was cleared after scans, officials said on Saturday.

Tunisia have already been hard hit by injuries to creative winger Youssef Msakni and striker Taha Yassine Khenissi, who both missed out on the World Cup.

Msakni had been invited to watch Monday's game in Volgograd by the Tunisian federation. 

Here is Tunisia's 23-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia), Moez Hassen (Chateauroux, France), Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Baten, Saudi Arabia)

Defenders: Rami Bedoui (Etoile du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City, England), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Dylan Bronn (Gent, Belgium), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon, France), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly, Egypt), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek, Egypt)

Midfielders: Anice Badri (Esperance), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al Ahli Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Ghaylene Chaalali (Esperance), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Saifeddine Khaoui (Troyes, France), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr, Saudi Arabia), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier, France), Naim Sliti (Dijon, France), Bassem Srarfi (Nice, France)

Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ittifaq, Saudi Arabia), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes, France)

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What do we know about the Tunisia squad?

With Youssef Msakni sidelined, Tunisia will be fielding a team at the World Cup that includes several foreign-born players, mainly from France.

Indeed, Tunisia's squad is a mix of players mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, France and domestic leagues.

Here's a closer look at the Tunisia team:

Coach

A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into World Cup qualifying for his second spell as coach after a brief tenure in 2013.

Maaloul played for Tunisia for a decade from 1985-95. One of very few African coaches in charge of a national team, he has transformed Tunisia from a fairly dour, defensive outfit to one more willing to attack since he took over after the African Cup of Nations in early 2017.

He needs to ensure the decision to bring in new players at the expense of some of the men who got Tunisia to the World Cup doesn't upset the team balance or alienate squad members.

Goalkeepers

Maaloul's biggest decision may be the first name on the sheet after saying he has yet to decide.

Aymen Mathlouthi, who is beginning to show frailties at 33 and after 11 years in the team, can no longer be certain of his starting spot.

Maaloul must figure out whether to drop the captain and sacrifice experience for 28-year-old Farouk Ben Mustapha, who has been highly-praised in the Saudi league.

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Defenders

Maaloul said he was leaning toward starting the World Cup with the formation used in friendly wins over Iran and Costa Rica in March. That would see 22-year-old French-born Ellyes Skhiri, who made his debut against Iran after a late call-up, start in central defence.

Other contenders are 24-year-old home-based player Yassine Meriah, the experienced Syam Ben Youssef and Mohamed Amine Ben Amor.

If it's a four-man back line, expect to see right-back Dylan Bronn, another French-born newcomer. Ali Maaloul has been a regular on the left. Both can also operate as wingers in a five-man midfield if Tunisia goes with a three-man defence of big, strong center-backs.

Midfielders

The challenge of filling the void left by Msakni will likely fall on France-born attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri. He played for the Tunisia and France youth teams before committing to Tunisia.

Khazri was partnered in the center of midfield by Anice Badri in Tunisia's last match - forming a potent attacking threat.

They are all versatile, operating as attacking midfielders or in a more advanced position in the forward line. Saif-Eddine Khaoui is a similar attack-minded midfielder who has forced himself into the team's plans.

Ferjani Sassi has the role of shoring up the middle of the field as the holding midfielder.

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Forwards

Depending on whether Khazri, Badri, Sliti and newcomer Khaoui are deployed, there may be room for one or perhaps no out-and-out strikers.

Ahmed Akaichi and Taha Yassine Khenissi have experience of operating alone up front but recent formations could mean Tunisia's forward line will be based on the versatility of the four attacking midfielders.

What are they saying?

Gareth Southgate

"I think the history can help us in terms of understanding what we can improve upon and what we can do," England manager Southgate said.

"You learn lessons from the past, but this team shouldn't be burdened with it because they're a fresh group, most of them have very few international caps.

"The future is all ahead of them, so they have to be thinking about what's possible.

"The players of the past and opportunities of the past are gone.

"This team is looking at things in a different way, trying to play in a different way.

"They have a hunger, a desire, we have a better technical players than we've had in the past coming through our academies, so there's a real enthusiasm.

"They're looking forward to getting going."

Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul

"For me the best team are Belgium, they are the group favourites. They have a lot of players who play in England and they are currently playing really well for a lot of clubs in England, so they are favourites and second place is between Tunisia and England. I hope it won't be the same scenario as in 1998."

Latest news from Volgograd - by Alec Luhn

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke, UK deputy ambassador to Russia Lindsay Skoll and British fans have laid wreaths at a Volgograd war memorial before England play Tunisia tonight.

The paying of respects marks a small breathe of warm air in the increasingly chilly relations between the UK and Russia. Government ministers and the royal family are boycotting the World Cup following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a Russian military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury.

“What this demonstrates more than anything is that the enduring nature of the relationship between the UK and Volgograd outweighs any political ups and downs in our relationship,” deputy ambassador Lindsay Skoll told The Telegraph after the ceremony.

Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) National Council member Billy Grant, The CEO of the UK's Football Association Greg Clark, and British Deputy Ambassador in Russia Lindsay Skoll (L-R front) during a wreath laying ceremony at the Hall of Military Glory  Credit: Getty Images

The battle of Stalingrad, as Volgograd was then known, was the bloodiest clash in history and turned the tide of the war against Hitler's forces.

The wreaths were laid at the eternal flame shortly after the changing of the guard in the hall of military glory on Monday morning. The monument complex, where 34,500 of the city's defenders are buried, is topped by The Motherland Calls, the tallest statue in Europe.

Key England vs Tunisia talking points

AN END TO OPENING-DAY NERVES?

England have not won their first fixture at a major tournament since 2006 when they edged Paraguay in Frankfurt. They have since drawn with the United States, France and Russia as well as losing to Italy at the last World Cup. Nerves in the curtain-raising fixture are not restricted to the Three Lions, of course, but their record could certainly do with some polishing. Three points would go a long way to affirming the squad's serene preparations as well as paving the way to the last 16.

KANE'S TOURNAMENT DROUGHT

Harry Kane has been the Premier League's market-leading finisher for four years, during which he has finessed his end product and built an enviable CV. The one notable omission is a lack of goals in summer tournaments - with the Spurs striker drawing a blank at the Under-21 European Championship and then again with the seniors at Euro 2016. Now he is captain, he must shoulder the burden and has welcomed the rising expectations with open arms. With 13 goals in 24 caps, the shirt clearly doesn't burden him - so can he seize the moment in Russia?

2 x 8 ?

Gareth Southgate has pledged to play with one screening midfielder and two 'number eights' - at least against the less expansive opponents like Tunisia and Panama. That makes Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard a crucial axis in the centre of the field. The pair's partnership is still in its infancy though and it is arguable if either man is being utilised in his optimal position. How they dovetail in midfield could determine England's tempo and ability to create scoring chances.

PICKFORD NEEDS A STEADY START

Unless Southgate springs a major surprise, Jordan Pickford will don the gloves on Monday - making just his fourth appearance and his first in competitive internationals. It would be tempting to view it as a failure in planning but Southgate's selections have been guided by form, not a loyalty programme from the qualifying period. All Pickford needs to do is provide a safe pair of hands, quite literally, but just ask Spain's David De Gea how hard that can be when the heat is on.

IN THE STANDS

England are well known for their raucous travelling support but ticket sales to Three Lions fans for this tournament have been well down on previous editions. Affordability and logistics are an obvious issue but there have been many other side concerns including British diplomatic tension with Russia, LGBT rights, racism and hooliganism. Will the thinned-out numbers of English fans dent the team's confidence, or might that factor help relieve some of the weight of expectation?

PA

What are the odds?

Betting guide: prediction and tips for England v Tunisia >

  • England to win 1/3
  • Draw 4/1
  • Tunisia to win 8/1

What's our prediction?

England finished bottom of their group at the last World Cup in Brazil and suffered a humiliating defeat by Iceland in the last-16 at Euro 2016. However, without wishing to tempt face, they could not have asked for an easier start to the tournament this time and should expect to win comfortably.

Predicted score: England 2 Tunisia 0.

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