The World Cup countdown is well and truly on and as we enter days as opposed to weeks until the tournament begins, the 32 teams set to enter sports biggest stage get one last chance to experiment before the grand kick off.
On Saturday, Tunisia and Spain meet at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia, with a final chance to fine-tune squads and give run-outs to those on the fringe.
But what can we expect from an International friendly so close to the World Cup finals and how have the pair fared in the run-up to Russia 2018?
Spain’s Recent Form
It is of little surprise that 2010 World Cup winners Spain are among the favourites to lift the FIFA World Cup for a second time with 888sport.
With players such as David Silva, David De Gea, and La Liga heavyweights Sergio Ramos, Diego Costa and Andrés Iniesta in the Red Fury’s ranks, it is not hard to see why Spain has been impressing against some tough opponents of late.
That was highlighted by the 6-1 drubbing of Argentina in March in which Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco netted a hattrick.
Draws against Switzerland and Germany stand Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui’s side in good stead ahead of their tricky opening match against Portugal in which unlike a fiery El Clasico, the squad will be competing together as opposed to against one another.
Tunisia’s Recent Form
The Tunisian squad have been adhering to Ramadan and played their last two games whilst fasting despite finding an ingenious way to battle fatigue. Despite this, England’s opening opponents have however impressed and are unbeaten in their four games in 2018.
Wins over Iran and Costa Rica have been backed up by draws with Turkey and Portugal and has given head coach Nabil Maâloul a more than creditable preparation.
Although none of the current squad ply their trade in Spain’s La Liga, their opponents will know not to take Tunisia for advantage as will England, when they meet on Monday the 18th.
Head to Head
The pair have only met once before during the group stages of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Spain was just beginning to move into its golden generation although the Spaniards left it late in a 3-1 win.
However, Tunisia did cause a few headaches as midfielder Jawhar Mnari put ‘The Eagles of Carthage’ into an eighth-minute lead.
It wasn’t until the Raul equalised in the 71st minute that Spain looked the outfit we all knew they were and a late Fernando Torres brace sealed the crucial win.
Much like Zinedine Zidane walking out of Real Madrid despite wrapping up a third Champions League title in a row, in this friendly, expect the unexpected.
It is likely that Julen Lopetegui will experiment, with his starting side for the game against Portugal to only get minimal time together.
Now is not the time to pick up an injury or unnecessary booking (Ramos) and caution on both camps may well be taken very seriously.
There are bigger fish to fry with the World Cup just days away.