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

Telegraph Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring in England training - PA

What is it?

It's sink or swim time. We're now a day away from England's opening Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia against Tunisia.

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.

A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when England endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier - only in contention for eight days.

Before that, there were penalty shoot-out losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semi-finals in 1986?

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.

When is it?

Monday, June 18, 2018.

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?

7pm BST.

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.

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

Latest team news England

Marcus Rashford is taking part in full training as manager Gareth Southgate fine-tunes his preparations for the World Cup opener with Tunisia.

Rashford has joined in with his team-mates as they train at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium, although reports suggest Southgate may already have decided on his starting line-up.

A number of national newspapers claimed on Thursday evening that Southgate will opt to put Raheem Sterling in support of lead striker Harry Kane, in a side containing nine World Cup debutants.

England squad | World Cup 2018

That would mean starts for the likes of Harry Maguire over Gary Cahill, Jordan Henderson ahead of Eric Dier and Ashley Young at left wing-back.

Regardless of who Southgate picks, the return to training of Rashford - revealed on The 'Lions' Den' show on England's YouTube channel - is good news for the manager, who has so far avoided any other injury scares and kept the initial 23-man squad he named in mid-May intact.

Southgate revealed Rashford's "slight knock" upon landing in Russia and a number of team-mates attempted to allay concerns, as did the forward himself.

"Thanks for the messages I've been getting," Rashford posted on Twitter. "Picked up a slight niggle but nothing to worry about £ThreeLions"


Tunisia have suffered the worst blow of all 32 teams to date, losing their playmaker Youssef Msakni, who suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury on April 7 that will keep him out for at least six months. The attacking midfielder, who has 49 caps, tore an anterior ligament playing for his Qatar Stars League club, Al-Duhail, against Al-Sailiya.

When Nabil Maloul, Tunisia's manager, was asked in March what Msakni's absence would mean when the player could not feature in the spring friendlies because of a minor meniscus problem that required 10 days' rest, he said it would be like Argentina going to Russia without Lionel Messi.

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)

Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more

What do we know about the Tunisia line-up?

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:


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.


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.

World Cup 2018 stadiums


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.


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.

World Cup predictor


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?

Jesse Lingard:

"Southgate has come in with the mentality to play with freedom, play without fear, and you will enjoy your time more," Lingard said.

"So, as a group of players, that is what we are going to do - enjoy our football, play with no fear and play exciting football at the same time.

"Of course, we want to go all the way to the final, but we are going to take each game as it comes and prepare for each game as we normally do."

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."

What are the odds?

  • 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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