Raheem Sterling and other forward runners are key to England's chances against Tunisia

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England get their World Cup 2018 campaign underway with a clash against Tunisia in Group G.

Gareth Southgate has moulded the Three Lions into a different beast than in previous tournaments but his new system will be tested against Nabil Maaloul’s capable Tunisian side.

Here’s a look at some of the key tactics ahead of the encounter.

FORWARD RUNNERS

One of England’s main deficiencies that immediately jumps out is their lack of playmakers in midfield. They do have players who excel at link up play in the final third but none with the ability to dictate play and control the tempo of the game.

The dearth of creativity is however compensated for by energetic, pacey forward runners. Both Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard are renowned for their bursts into the box and their finishing. Meanwhile, Sterling is perhaps the greatest threat in that regard, darting in behind the back line with increasing frequency and effect, a move he’s mastered at Manchester City this season under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.

Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling.

TUNISIA’S WAY FORWARD

Despite being one of the underdogs in Group G, Tunisia aren’t known to adopt a traditional counter-attacking strategy. Instead, they attempt to play the ball out from the back in a 4-2-3-1 system, which can bear more resemblance to a 4-4-1-1 at times.

The two midfielders in the double pivot drop deep to pick up the ball while the wide men fall back as well and tuck in to receive possession in the half spaces. It’s from there that they can attempt to find main man Wahbi Khazri quickly with direct balls towards the skipper.

Wahbi Khazri.

Wahbi Khazri.

OVERLOADING THE FLANKS

Not only does the 3-5-2 system help England control possession but it also serves up the option to then use those numbers on the ball to concentrate their efforts in certain areas of the pitch.

The flanks are easily overloaded to create passing angles or crossing opportunities with Harry Kane likely to be ably supported in the box by midfield runners. One of the central midfielders, a wing-back and either a forward or the holding midfielder stepping in can create passing triangles on one of the flanks.

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