The outcomes of these two sides’ respective opening matches were predictable, but the performances were not. However, results count, and Belgium are universally favoured to send Tunisia packing in this Group G fixture.
Hours prior to Tunisia’s defeat to England, Belgium had been frustrated by a goalless first half against minnows Panama. However, superior quality shone through, and the Red Devils won 3-0. Though the opposition was relatively weak, the result represented Belgium’s fourth haul of 3+ goals in five games.
Tunisia then emerged from the England clash beaten, but leaving nobody under any illusions as to their defensive ability. After being outplayed for the entirety of the first half, the North Africans played defensively, and in the heat of Volgograd, it nearly worked, but for a late header by Harry Kane.
The Tunisians must win here, but history is against them, with no side representing the nation ever qualifying for the knockout stage of a World Cup tournament. Belgium, meanwhile, have done so in four of the last five since 1986.
Players to watch: It took a while for him to get going, but Romelu Lukaku banged in two goals against Panama to get that scoring feeling back in his boots at a vital time.
Ferjani Sassi’s equalising penalty for Tunisia was the Al Nasr midfielder’s second goal in three outings – his three-year goal famine is now a distant memory!
Stat attack: This will be the fourth ever meeting between these sides, with the last competitive encounter yielding a 1-1 draw.
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BELGIUM VS TUNISIA
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Belgium have scored first in eight of their last ten matches.
Tunisia are without a clean sheet in four matches.
Belgium’s competitive record against African sides is: W2, D1, L0.
Tunisia’s competitive record on European soil (excluding friendly matches) reads: W1, D2, L7.
Will not play
Hassen M. (Shoulder Injury)
Referee: Marrufo J. (Usa)
Venue: Otkrytiye Arena (Moscow)