World Cup previews: Tunisia v England
Here’s what the Football Manager 2018 data has to say about the likely line-ups for this match. The explanation for this is here but in a nutshell I’ve treated the Football Manager database like a scouting tool and compared the two teams across a range of measures by combining their in-game attributes.
Here’s how the two teams stack up in terms of overall ability according to Football Manager’s researchers, i.e. the game’s hidden ‘current ability’ stat:
There’s as much of a mismatch as you’d expect here, with England looking strong all over the pitch while Tunisia’s talent is a bit more patchy. Khazri is the standout threat up front but on paper there’s not much to worry Gareth Southgate.
Let’s have a look at where each side’s goals could come from using the various attributes around converting chances:
Kane (unsurprisingly) and Alli are England’s best finishers, but there’s a decent amount of threat in central midfield and from the back three at set pieces. Tunisia meanwhile appear most likely to score through Ben Youssef on the right with Khazri and Skhiri their other decent options. It looks like Harry Maguire will be standing in their way most often, so he needs to have a good game.
Here’s who might be instrumental in getting the ball to the aforementioned likely goal-getters by unlocking the opposing defence:
Khazri is again the man to watch for Tunisia, but both Sassi and Sliti to his left shouldn’t be underestimated when in possession. England don’t appear to have a creator in a class of their own, but their midfield three plus Raheem Sterling are all as inventive as Khazri.
Finally let’s have a look at which players are the most mobile, both in terms of raw speed and their ability to sustain their movement over the course of a match:
This is where England are strong: this line-up looks pretty mobile with the exception of Harry Maguire and therefore able to work hard to create space. Tunisia are no slouches themselves but aren’t in the same league, and can potentially be worn down over 90 minutes.