Tunisia World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections
Pictured: Ellyes Skhiri.
- Tunisia reached the World Cup through the African qualifying stages.
- Will they be able to make a run in Qatar?
- Read on for BJ Cunningham's analysis.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating.
Read on for a full breakdown of Tunisia ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.
Tunisia World Cup Preview
The North African nation is now playing in their second-straight World Cup after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Tunisia won their qualifying group over Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania but only had a +3.32 xGD in those six matches. Then, they made it to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in January, losing to Burkina Faso 1-0.
Tunisia then beat Mali over a two-leg playoff to reach their second straight World Cup, although they weren’t able to generate many high-quality chances on net, as they only created 0.73 xG over the two meetings.
During the 2018 World Cup, Tunisia were placed in a group with England, Belgium and Panama. England and Belgium absolutely throttled them, scoring a combined seven goals off of eight xG, but Tunisia were able to dominate Panama and get a 2-1 victory.
|Chances To…||Action Projections||bet365 Odds|
|Win Group Stage||2.58%||+1600|
|Advance To Knockout Round||13.85%||+350|
|Win World Cup||0.04%||+50000|
|Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.|
In terms of talent, there are not a lot of guys playing at the highest level for football at the moment. Wahbi Khazri has been the main man upfront for a long time, making 71 international appearances and scoring 24 goals. They have Ellyes Skhiri, who is an outstanding defensive midfielder for Koln in the German Bundesliga, along with a center back pairing of Dylan Bronn and Montassar Talbi, who are at least playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Tunisia also made a managerial change after the Africa Cup of Nations, promoting Jalel Kadri after sacking Mondher Kebaier after their loss in the quarterfinal to Burkina Faso.
For Tunisia to make it out of the group stage for the first time in their country’s history, they need to perform better against top competition. In the Africa Cup of Nations, despite beating one of the best teams on the continent in Nigeria, they got outcreated on xG 0.53 to 1.07, and Nigeria got a red card in the 66th minute. So, if Tunisia repeat what happened against England and Belgium, they will not be getting out of this group.
Key Player: Ellyes Skhiri
Ellyes Skhiri is incredibly important to Tunisia, as he is the main defensive midfielder protecting their back line. He’s had an impressive campaign for Koln in the German Bundesliga, winning 2.81 tackles per 90 minutes and 1.59 interceptions per 90 minutes, which are in the 86th percentile or above in Europe’s top five leagues.
Skhiri has incredible stamina and is seemingly everywhere on the pitch, from stopping opposing counterattacks to pressing and winning the ball off the opponent high up the pitch. During the 2020-21 season, Shkiri ran the most and had the most tackles of anybody in the Bundesliga.
In his five matches at the Africa Cup of Nations, Skhiri was asked to be a part of the attack more with Tunisia dominating possession against Gambia and Mauritania. He ended up with six tackles won, seven interceptions and 23 ball recoveries during the tournament, but also led the team being involved in 14 shot-ending sequences, per The Analyst.
Skhiri plays a massive role for Turkey going up against elite midifields in France and Denmark, so Turkey will only go as far as Skhiri takes them.
Tunisia mainly set up in a 4-3-3 throughout the Africa Cup of Nations, with Skhiri as the holding midfielder. They were very possession-dominant in matches against Gambia and Mauritania, but against Mali and Nigeria, Tunisia tended to sit a little deeper. It’s why during their five matches they had seven direct attacks compared to just three build-up attacks.
They were also one of the most successful pressing teams at the Africa Cup of Nations, having a PPDA of 7.8 and forcing 30 high turnovers in their five matches. Their PPDA was third to only Algeria and Morocco. There is no way Tunisia can come out and press both France and Denmark like they did to Gambia and Mauritania, as they would get picked apart.
For Tunisia to be successful, they are going to have to sit deep or press when their opponent enters their final third, then look to quickly transition the ball up to Khazri to make some magic happen. However, we might see some of that high pressing from AFCON show up against Australia, who is going to be doing a lot of slow build-up play from the back.
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Tunisia World Cup Schedule
|Denmark||8 a.m. ET, Nov. 22|
|Australia||5 a.m. ET, Nov. 26|
|France||10 a.m. ET, Nov. 30|
Most Recent World Cup Result
Third Place, Group Stage (2018)
Tunisia weren't able to progress out of the group stage in 2018, but a win over Panama meant they weren't left empty-handed. Securing a point over Belgium or England did prove too difficult a task.