By Jullian Sardana (@JullianSardana)
After the first week of games, the Socceroos face off against Tunisia on Saturday night at the Al Janoub Stadium as they both strive to get their first win under their belt.
A Craig Goodwin goal in the ninth minute against the French gave hope for the Aussies. However, France were able to overcome this minor setback and win the game 4-1 comfortably with goals coming from Adrien Rabiot, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud. On the other hand, Tunisia come into this match optimistic as they held EURO 2020 semi-finalists Denmark to a goaless draw.
Tunisia manager Jalel Kadri utilised a 3-4-3 formation against the Danes with two centre-attacking midfielders/inverted wingers playing behind the striker. Prior to the World Cup, Tunisia played a standard 4-3-3 formation in friendlies against Brazil where they lost 5-1 and Comoros where Tunisia were victorious winning 1-0.
Although Tunisia and the Socceroos may not be need the favourites to advance out of the Group stages, this matchup could be each others best opportunity to get a win and have a chance at challenging France and Denmark.
Players to keep an eye on:
Aïssa Laïdouni (Ferencváros, Midfielder)
Laïdouni was at the heart of the Tunisian midfield showcasing his passion and leadership qualities with a crunching tackle on Demark’s Christian Eriksen in the early moments of the game. The Ferencváros midfielder stats against Denmark were very impressive with 63 touches while having a pass accuracy of 82 per cent. Laïdouni won five out of his six ground duels with two tackles under his name as well. His instrumental performance in the middle of the pitch won him man of the match and Tunisia will hope to see more of a similar performance on Saturday against Australia.
Ellyes Skhiri (1. FC Köln, Midfielder)
Pairing with Laïdouni in midfield is Ellyes Skhiri who also put in a impressive performance against Denmark. Although he many not get as much attention as others in the team he provides solidity and leadership in the Tunisia squad. Against the Danes, Skhiri had four tackles, two interceptions and won five out of his six ground duels. The former Montpellier man completed 91 per cent of his passes against Denmark as well. Kadri will hope the Köln midfielder can continue his form against the Socceroos in order to have a chance at advancing past the group stage.
Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City, Midfielder)
Mejbri is playing at his first World Cup at the age of 19 making his debut on Wednesday playing 10 minutes against Denmark. Mejbri has two assists under his belt in the Championship for Birmingham City. The Manchester United youngster can provide something unique and different in the attacking third if given the opportunity against Arnold’s Socceroos.
How will Tunisia line up?
Kadri employed at 3-4-3 formation against Denmark aiming to match up Denmark’s 3-5-2 formation. He’ll most likely go with the same formation and a similar lineup to what he had against Denmark as it had some success against them. However, Tunisia could potentially revert back to their 4-3-3 formation they used against Brazil and Comoros
Probable Lineup (3-4-3):
Dahmen; Bronn, Meriah, Talbi; Dräger, Skhiri, Laïdouni, Abdi; Silmane, Msakni; Jebali.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images