World Cup 2022 team preview: Tunisia have outside chance of reaching Last 16

The conditions in Qatar could just favour the North African side.

Tunisia national footbal team

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After only qualifying for the World Cup once before 1998, Tunisia can consider themselves regulars nowadays, having qualified for five of the last seven tournaments. The Tunisian Football Federation was only founded in 1957 after they became independent from France, so their lack of qualification before the 1990s can be understood.

They’re been quite a successful side in the Africa Cup of Nations throughout the years, winning the whole thing in 2004, and reaching the quarter-finals in 11 of the last 14. In those 11 tournaments, they reached the semi final twice, and the final twice. 

Here to see how they’ll get on at the World Cup 2022 is Paddy Power football trader Sam Kingston.

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Tunisia World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Tunisia qualified for the World Cup for the sixth time in March, beating Mali 1-0 over two legs to reach this year’s tournament. The tie was characteristic of Tunisia, who set up quite defensively and look to win games by low margins, a tactic that may suit a group and knockout tournament in the humid climate of Qatar.

Who is the Tunisia manager?

Jalal Qaderi has managed throughout Tunisia in his 21 years as a football coach. He became manager of the national team midway through the previous AFCON, after previous coach, Mondher Kebaier, picked up COVID after the Group Stage. He led them past Nigeria 1-0 before being eliminated by Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals.

Qaderi coaches a very defensive 4-3-3 style, and before they were beaten 5-1 by Brazil, the goal they shipped against Burkina Faso was the only one conceded in his nine games in charge.

Jalal Qaderi, Tunisia manager

Tunisia World Cup squad

The majority of this Tunisia side plays outside of Europe, with very few recognisable names in the side. Kadri always sets up with a defensive 4-3-3 shape with a strong midfield balance. Ellyes Skhiri of FC Koln, capped 45 times, sits in the middle of the three to break the opposition’s attack up.

Skhiri’s role is pivotal in the way Tunisia play, and an injury to him would be detrimental to their chances of qualifying from Group D, as it would be difficult for another player to replicate the work he does to win possession back. 

Alongside Skhiri will likely be Aissa Laidouni of Ferencvaros and Anis ben Slimane of FC Brondby. Wahbi Khazri is without doubt the main man, picking the ball up in dangerous areas, and shooting on sight when he can. He takes free kicks and penalties, so is by far their main threat of a goal. Youssef Msakni is the captain of the side, who plays for Al-Arabi in Qatar, and will start from the left of the front three, with Seifeddine Jaziri of Zamalek, Egypt, leading the line.

Tunisia Key Player

Tunisia are a squad who are greater than the sum of their parts, and will need to work as a collective unit if they are to advance to the knockout stages for the first time in their history, so the midfield and defence will need to be solid for all three Group Stage games.

As mentioned above, Ellyes Skhiri is the man who controls the shape of their defensive unit, sitting in front of the back four, with his main job to disrupt the opposition’s attack. He allows Tunisia to keep possession too, with a passing accuracy of higher than 90% throughout his international career. Compared to Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets’ style of play, Skhiri is crucial to this team’s chances of qualifying through this group. 

Ellyes Skhiri, Tunisia

Tunisia One to Watch

The Eagles of Carthage will need moments of magic from their star man Wahbi Khazri if they are to pull off any shock results. Khazri is now 31 years old, but still has the ability to light up a game, although he won’t be remembered too fondly for that by Sunderland fans. Khazri has 24 goals for the national side, takes all set-pieces and enjoyed the best spell of his career at Saint Etienne over the last four years, scoring 33 league goals in 100 games. If he can manage even one goal at this tournament, it may be enough to see Tunisia win a game 1-0 and advance to the knockout stages.

Tunisia World Cup Prospects

Tunisia’s sole objective for this tournament will be to qualify through the group for the first time in the country’s history. While France and Denmark are both expected to qualify from Group D, Tunisia are third favourites to get through and the climate and fixture list may just play into their hands. 

Most of their players are based in either North Africa or the Middle East, in a climate which will be very similar to the humid conditions in Qatar. The French and Danish players may not be as conditioned to playing in this heat. You then look at the fixtures, where they’re up against the favorites of the group, France, in their final game. This plays into their favour, as France will be odds-on to beat both Denmark and Australia, meaning they will, probably, have already qualified when they play Tunisia.

This may mean they rest players, or simply don’t have the same motivation to win the game. Tunisia play Denmark in their opening game, which feels like a crucial game immediately, where you’d have to feel they need to pick up at least one point. If they manage to do so, a win against Australia would put them within touching distance of the last 16.

Tunisia World Cup betting tips

Tunisia should prove to be an awkward side to come up against for the favourites in the group. They set up very defensively and are very tough to break down, in a style that should suit playing in Group D in Qatar. The fixtures in the group, along with the weather conditions, gives them a chance of picking up enough points to qualify. They are a much shorter price to get something in the opening game against Denmark than they are to qualify from the group, and if they manage to do so their price to qualify will drastically shorten, so I’d prefer to be on the bigger price and support them in all three games. TUNISIA TO QUALIFY FROM GROUP D

Tunisia World Cup Winner Odds

Tunisia World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 22, 1pm: Denmark v Tunisia (ITV)

November 26, 10am: Tunisia v Australia (BBC)

November 30, 3pm: Tunisia v France (BBC)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON TUNISIA’S GROUP D RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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