Can Tunisia make the perfect start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign when they meet Angola this week? The North African side were impressive at the 2018 World Cup, pushing England and finishing up third behind two sides who went on to make the semis. They’re set to battle for top spot in this group alongside Mali, so Tunisia will need to take an early victory from their clash with Angola on Monday.
Tunisia have changed boss since their World Cup displays, as Alain Giresse has taken over aiming to build on their results in Russia. We saw their talented side last year, while they have certainly changed their style from the expected, functional side. Instead, Tunisia are creating attacking players, including Youssef Msakni of Qatar’s Al-Duhail, who is expected to impress after missing out on the World Cup last summer. Could he be the key to moving Tunisia forward this summer?
Angola had a golden period between 2006 and 2010, as they made the World Cup in Germany. They followed that with back to back quarter-final finishes in the Africa cup of Nations, including the 2010 tournament which they hosted. Since then it’s been a mix of failures to qualify or an inability to make it out of the group. Angola aren’t the side they once were, so we see Tunisia as worthy favourites for the points in this game.
England’s youth sides have enjoyed a brilliant spell of results in recent years, but the under 21s are a real sticking point. There are plenty of explanations, with players cherry-picked from the team to go to the senior squad. The likes of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho could have done a lot at this tournament, but they’ve each been left out. Boothroyd has come in for a lot of criticism, while he’s dealing with the age group where players tend to stop developing. English clubs are so stacked with talent that their under 21 sides have always had issues.
England’s issues have been seen in their recent games, as they’ve lost three on the bounce. They’ve conceded eight times across those losses, while their last six games have seen both teams score. Given that their previous two encounters with Croatia have seen both teams find the net, we expect to see goals here. That comes with Croatia heading into this clash having leaked five goals in two matches in Italy this summer.
With nothing to play for between these two sides, we expect a more open game with plenty of goals. That’s what we’ve come to expect from the tournament so far, while England have seen both teams score and at least three goals in five of their last six matches. We can see a repeat of that here, with both teams showing clear issues in defence.