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2018 World Cup team preview: Tunisia

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Getting to know Tunisia: After missing out in 2010 and 2014, Tunisia are back at the World Cup, making their fifth appearance in total, and fourth in the last six tournaments.

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Seeking just their second-ever win at the World Cup, the Eagles of Carthage are an extremely long shot to advance from a difficult group which also features Belgium and England, but the current generation of mid-20s, in-their-prime stars gives Nabil Maaloul’s its best chance at a first World Cup win since 1978.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group F, where they’ll face an uphill battle to beat one of Belgium or England to a top-two spot. They’ll need three points against Panama to have any hope of advancing to the knockout rounds.

Game schedule – Group G – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Monday, June 18: Tunisia vs. England, Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET
Saturday, June 23: Belgium vs. Tunisia, Moscow (Otkritie), 8 a.m. ET
Tuesday, June 28: Panama vs. Tunisia, Saransk, 2 p.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-4-2) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

— Mathlouthi —

— Bronn — S. Ben Youssef — Meriah — Maaloul —

—— Sassi ——  Ben Amor ——

—— F. Ben Youssef —— —— —— —— —— Khaoui ——

— Sliti —— Khazri —


Star player: Wahbi Khazri – Youssef Msakni will miss the tournament due to a knee injury, leaving Khazri to assume the attacking and creative reins in his absence. The 27-year-old attacker tallied nine goals and two assists while on loan (from Sunderland) to Ligue 1 side Rennes this season. Khazri (fitness), however, is in a race against time to be fit for next Monday’s opener against England.


Manager: Nabil Maaloul – The 55-year-old made 74 appearances for his country as a player, and has been in charge of the national team since April 2017. Maaloul was in charge for Tunisia’s final four group qualifiers (2W-2D-0L — wins over DR Congo and Guinea, draws against DR Congo and Libya).


Secret weapon: Saif-Eddine Khaoui – Born to parents of Tunisian descent in Paris, France, Khaoui committed to playing for his nation of heritage in 2015, at the age of 20. He spent the season on loan at Ligue 1 side Troyes, where he scored five goals and tallied two assists.


Prediction: Third place in Group G, thanks to a win over an aging Panamanian side in the two sides’ finale.

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.