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

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All you need to know about England's first World Cup 2018 match - PA/Getty Images

What is it?

Strap yourselves in: this is 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 - only a few days away now.

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.

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Gareth Southgate has named a bold World Cup squad focused on promise rather than experience.

Uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold is celebrating a maiden England call-up but Adam Lallana, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere miss out.

After months of speculation, scrutiny and conjecture, the 23 men charged with bringing the country success in Russia were revealed on Wednesday afternoon, along with the five-strong stand-by list for the tournament.

England's joint second-most capped goalkeeper Hart was excluded from both lists as were Arsenal midfielder Wilshere and Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand - but Lallana provided the biggest shock.

While the Liverpool attacking midfielder has not started a Premier League match since New Year's Day, he is a favourite of Southgate. However, his lack of fitness means he has to settle with a stand-by place alongside Jake Livermore, Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook.

England squad | World Cup 2018

Gary Cahill received a surprise reprieve having been excluded from March's squad - the only member of the group to have reached a half-century of caps.

But the most striking inclusion is uncapped teenager Alexander-Arnold.

An impressive performer in Liverpool's run to the Champions League final, the 19-year-old briefly trained with Southgate's side in March and has now been named in the senior squad for the first time.

The other uncapped squad member is Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, having been selected ahead of 75-cap Hart to take the third spot behind Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rewarded for his fine form and versatile Fabian Delph came in after winning the title at Manchester City, despite last playing for his country in November 2015.

Ashley Young, rejuvenated at Manchester United, joined Danny Rose as left-back options instead of Bertrand, who will feel hard done by considering he played a key role for Southgate.


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 team?

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.

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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.

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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?

England have every chance of reaching the latter stages of this year's World Cup and, according to FA technical director Dan Ashworth, will not go to Russia "to come back in the group stages":

"We want to inspire the nation and in order to do that we have to play well and win some football matches.

"We have got some talented players. We don't have a history at this moment in time of succeeding at tournaments.

"So we've hopefully got to try and move our talented players into performing better at tournaments and getting through to those latter stages.

"Is it impossible for England to win the World Cup? No it isn't."

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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