FIFA World Cup 2018
Belgium vs Tunisia
Otkrytie Arena, Russia
Tunisia will be hoping not to become the second African nation to pack their bags at the 2018 FIFA World cup in Russia.
Morocco was eliminated on Wednesday and a loss for Eagles of Carthage coupled by England either winning or drawing against Panama will see the African side eliminated after only two games.
Tunisia lost their first gorup game 2-1 to England.
“If we had got a draw it would have been an excellent result for us (against England), said Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul ahead of the game.
“Hopefully this will lead to higher levels of concentration in the coming games starting with the one against Belgium.
Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen has been ruled out of the World Cup because of the shoulder injury that forced him off after 16 minutes against England.
Oussama Haddadi is expected to play instead of Ali Maaloul at left-back.
For Belgium who won 3-0 against Panama in the first game, centre-backs Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are again expected to be missing with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
As a result, Dedryck Boyata will continue alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
“They have a lot of bravery and they’re very dynamic, said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez about Tunisia.
“The players have a good understanding between each other and they can bring energy and intensity on counter-attacks.
They play direct, efficient football.
However, that was not the case for Tunisia against England, in a game that they played on the back-foot for longer spells.
They will be hoping that Martinez’s words are transformed into an inspired display on the pitch against one of the finest group of players at the 2018 World cup.
This will be the fourth meeting between Belgium and Tunisia, with both nations winning one game and sharing one draw.
The most recent meeting between Belgium and Tunisia was a friendly in 2014, with Dries Mertens scoring a late winner for Belgium in a 1-0 win in Brussels.
This is Belgium and Tunisia’s second meeting at a World Cup tournament – they previously drew 1-1 in the 2002 group stages, in what was Tunisia’s only point in that edition.
Belgium are unbeaten in their three previous World Cup games against African opponents, with a draw against Tunisia in 2002 the only game they failed to win.
Belgium are unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup group games, winning the last five in a row (W5 D5 L0).
Each of Belgium’s last 11 World Cup goals have come after half-time.
Tunisia are winless in their last 12 World Cup matches (D4 L8), since beating Mexico in their first ever match in the competition (3-1 in 1978).
The last team to have a longer winless run in the World Cup than Tunisia’s current run of 12 was South Korea (14 games between 1954 and 1998).
Tunisia have scored with their only shot on target so far at this World Cup.
Only Jan Ceulemans (6) has scored more goals in major tournaments for Belgium (World Cup and European Championships) than Romelu Lukaku (5, level with Marc Wilmots).