England are set to take on Tunisia in their World Cup opener on Monday.
Both teams boast plenty of young talent with England being the third-youngest side at the tournament and Tunisia the fourth.
Here’s a look at some of the key players ahead of the Group G-encounter.
Wahbi Khazri v Harry Kane
Wahbi Khazri hasn’t played a match since April when he picked up a thigh injury while playing for Rennes in Ligue 1. However, the 27-year-old has returned to fitness and was on the bench during Tunisia’s final warm-up game against Spain.
The attacking midfielder turned striker should start up front despite his lack of match sharpness and that comes as a boost for his side. Deemed surplus to requirements at Sunderland this season, he was loaned out to Rennes where he scored nine goals playing up front or out wide. His strength, movement and sharp-shooting makes him a huge threat.
Khazri will have to do something special to upstage the striker at the other end though. Harry Kane has enjoyed his best ever season with Tottenham, scoring a remarkable 44 goals across all competitions.
Much is expected of the 24-year-old at this tournament. Not only does he have the added responsibility that comes with the captain’s armband, but he is also considered England’s only true World Class player.
Kane is the perfect number nine, boasting great strength, aerial prowess and outstanding finishing. He’s scored eight times in his last seven appearances for England.
Saif-Eddine Khaoui v Jesse Lingard
Another Tunisian player who has benefitted from a loan move this season is Saif-Eddine Khaoi. He struggled for playing time at Marseille, but excelled during his stint at relegated Ligue 1 outfit Troyes.
Khaoui is known to be a technically gifted player, blessed with quick feet and always looks for the forward pass. The France-born midfielder was only called up to the squad in March.
Jesse Lingard on the other hand, has enjoyed a fine season at Manchester United and comes into the tournament bursting with confidence. A prolific domestic campaign has been complimented by some impressive display for the national team.
Especially since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was ruled out of the World Cup through injury, Lingard’s energy, pace and speed of thought through the middle has become crucial.
Syam Ben Youssef v John Stones
Syam Ben Youssef doesn’t typically inspire confidence among the Tunisian support but seems to have the backing of the coach.
His career trajectory has been on a gentle climb. Beginning at Esperance Sportive de Tunis, spells at Leyton Orient and Astra Giurgiu preceded a move to Caen and he now features for Kasimpasa in the Turkish Super Lig.
The 29-year-old has been a mainstay in defence for the national team over the years.
John Stones comes highly rated and with good reason. He’s got all the attributes necessary to be the ideal modern centre-back.
He doesn’t come error-free, though. He is susceptible to the odd lapse in concentration but at 24, is still improving.
However, it’s his composure on the ball and distribution that makes him integral to Southgate’s back three.
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