It’s a case of Déjà vu for England and Tunisia tonight.
Twenty years ago in France, a clash between these two nations got their World Cup campaign off and running.
The Three Lions ran out 2-0 winners on that day and they would love a repeat this time around in Russia.
Having watched Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina, Germany and Brazil all play - with only France picking up a win - England will be looking to show the world just what they’re capable of.
The 11 players that will start England’s 2018 World Cup have known for days with Gareth Southgate revealing he told them early.
But what about the XI that started back in 1998?
England may have got off to a winning start 20 years ago but they were knocked out of the quarter-finals to Argentina.
So are they better placed this time around?
Well, let’s compare tonight’s reported XI to the XI that started vs Tunisia back in 1998 and see which side is better:
GOALKEEPERS | 1998: DAVID SEAMAN | 2018: JORDAN PICKFORD
Seaman earned 75 caps representing his country, while Pickford has only picked up three so far. However, if Pickford keeps the number one jersey for the rest of his career, he could well reach Seaman’s appearance tally.
Seaman gets our vote for this one, though.
1998 1-0 2018
CENTRE-BACK | 1998: SOL CAMPBELL | 2018: KYLE WALKER
Campbell was involved in a highly controversial moment in the 1998 tournament, having a goal disallowed against Argentina in the quarter-finals. As for Walker, he’s been moved back to a right centre-back position by Southgate recently.
We’d rather a peak Campbell at centre-back than Walker.
1998 2-0 2018
CENTRE-BACK | 1998: GARETH SOUTHGATE | 2018: JOHN STONES
Yes, England’s current manager lined up for the Three Lions back in 1998 two years on from his penalty heartbreak.
Stones hasn’t had the best season for Manchester City but will be key in playing the ball out from the back in this system. At the age of 24, Stones has the potential to exceed Southgate’s career.
1998 2-1 2018
CENTRE-BACK | 1998: TONY ADAMS | 2018: HARRY MAGUIRE
Quite an easy decision, this. A former England captain, who made 66 caps for England, against a fairly inexperienced defender in Maguire.
1998 3-1 2018
LEFT WING-BACK | 1998 - GRAEME LE SAUX | 2018 - ASHLEY YOUNG
Young appears to have edged out Danny Rose for a left wing-back spot, despite being right footed. Le Saux was a more natural left wing-back but, due to his versatility, we’re giving this one to Young.
1998 3-2 2018
RIGHT WING-BACK | 1998: DARREN ANDERTON | 2018: KIERAN TRIPPIER
Trippier has benefitted from Southgate’s decision to move Walker back to centre-back and will earn only his eighth cap against Tunisia.
Trippier’s delivery towards Harry Kane could reap the rewards for England in this tournament.
Anderson was more a midfielder than a right wing-back so we’re more comfortable with Tripper.
1998 3-3 2018
MIDFIELD | 1998: PAUL INCE | 2018: JORDAN HENDERSON
Ince picked up his 40th cap in this match against Tunisia, the exact same number Henderson will pick up in tonight’s match.
Henderson’s job will be to protect the back-four but also has the ability to split a defence with forward passing.
Because Ince missed a penalty in the quarter-final against Argentina, we’re going for Henderson.
1998 3-4 2018
MIDFIELD | 1998: DAVID BATTY | 2018: DELE ALLI
Batty will always be remembered for missing that crucial penalty against Argentina in the quarter-finals.
He played an important role in this England side but he had his limitations. Alli, at the age of 22, could be crucial if Southgate's side are to go far in this tournament. He’s already got 25 caps for England and has the potential to be an England hero.
1998 3-5 2018
MIDFIELD | 1998: PAUL SCHOLES | 2018: JESSE LINGARD
If we were ranking who could dance better, Lingard would surely win. However, on football ability alone, Scholes wins hands down.
Scholes scored a late beauty to make it 2-0 to England against Tunisia back in 1998 and Lingard would love to be able to do the same.
But this is one of England’s greatest ever players against a midfielder that is yet to win fans around at the age of 25.
1998 4-5 2018
STRIKER | 1998: TEDDY SHERINGHAM | 2018: RAHEEM STERLING
Sterling may have had a terrific season for Man City but he’s goalscoring record for England is appealing. Sterling has just two goals in 38 appearances for his country and will need to improve on that this summer.
As for Sheringham, he bagged 11 in 51 matches despite competing for places against some of the best strikers England have ever seen.
1998 5-5 2018
STRIKER | 1998: ALAN SHEARER | 2018: HARRY KANE
So, it all comes down to this. Two world-class strikers going into the World Cup as captains of their country.
Shearer opened the scoring in Tunisia and bagged nine goals in major tournaments for England. Kane is yet to score for England at a European Champions or World Cup.
He’s 27 goals off Shearer’s goal tally for England and, even though he may reach that, we think Shearer edges this sone.
FINAL RESULT: 1998 6-5 2018
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