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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Tunisia World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here’s the Tunisia World Cup preview — they’ll play in Group D against France, Denmark and Australia.

Tunisia World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup appearances: 6th

Best finish: Group stage

How they got here: Tunisia had arguably one of the easiest routes to the World Cup. In the group stage of CAF qualifying Tunisia topped a group that consisted of Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and Mauritania. 

Then in the playoffs Tunisia was drawn against Mali, a team that has never qualified for the World Cup. Tunisia scraped by with a 1-0 aggregate victory and booked a trip to Qatar.

Coach: Jalel Kadri (Tunisian)

Strongest XI: (4-3-3) Bechir Ben Said; Ali Maâloul, Montassar Talbi, Bilel Ifa, Mohamed Dräger; Aïsssa Laïdouni, Ellyes Skhiri, Ferjani Sassi; Youssef Msakni, Wahbi Khazri, Anis Ben Slimane

Injuries: Ellyes Skhiri (cheekbone fracture)

What’s to like: Tunisia will bring a balanced blend of experience and youth to Qatar. Typical starters like Wahbi Khazri, Ferjani Sassi, Ali Maâloul and Ellyes Skhiri competed at the 2018 World Cup and have the experience of playing on the grand stage. 

Another veteran is forward and team captain Youssef Msakni. He missed the 2018 World Cup after suffering a knee injury right before the tournament. His leadership was missed four years ago, but now his valuable presence — and 87 caps — will be on the field for Tunisia.

The Eagles of Carthage also have several younger players making waves. One of those examples is 24-year-old defender Montassar Talbi, who has helped Ligue 1 minnows FC Lorient ascend to the top four of the table. Talbi has locked down a starting spot for Tunisia at center back and even scored in a friendly vs. Brazil in February.

What’s not to like: Tunisia simply hasn’t been tested in a competitive game by a top team. Their road to the World Cup was a cake walk and when Tunisia faced Brazil in a friendly, they got clobbered 5-1.

This team just doesn’t stack up on paper. A handful of players were born in France but couldn’t make the cut for the France national team and instead represent Tunisia. Now they'll have to play France’s finest. Good luck.

X-Factor: Youssef Msakni will finally get to play in the World Cup with Tunisia. The team will have its leader/captain this time and that could be a huge difference. Msakni is the man for the big occasions. In January he scored the game-winner in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 vs. Nigeria. 

Msakni has played his club ball in the Qatar Stars League for the past 11 seasons, so this World Cup will basically be like playing on home soil. If he plays in each of the three group stage games, then he will hit 90 caps for Tunisia. He’s destined to do something special.

Best Hair: Hannibal Mejbri

Embed from Getty Images

Most likely to fuck it all up: Bechir Ben Said and Aymen Dahmen are battling for Tunisia’s starting goalkeeper position. The two have a combined 14 caps (Ben Said with 10 and Dahmen with four). It will be trial by fire at the World Cup and all signs point to a massive fire in the forms of France and Denmark.

What will make this a good World Cup: Not getting last in the group.

Bonus prediction: Tunisia’s narrow 2-1 defeat to England at the 2018 World Cup gets brought up a minimum of five times this World Cup.

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