#FIFA Arab Cup

Versatile Tunisia in focus

FIFA, 17 Dec 2021


Ahead of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 final, we are taking an in depth look at our two finalists as Tunisia take on Algeria. Tunisia have been impressive and have surprised at times, advancing to the final after a dramatic, last minute 1-0 victory over Egypt in the semi-final on Wednesday.

In the fifth minute of injury time, Tunisia went ahead after unfortunate Egypt captain, Amro Elsoulia, put through his own net from a pacy freekick delivery. With no time to recover, Egypt exited the competition and Tunisia advanced - much to the elation of their travelling support.

The FIFA Technical Study Group observed the match at Stadium 974 and, afterwards, Steve McClaren reflected on the tournament so far and discussed the process of analysis being undertaken by the TSG:

System of play

Tunisia have shown excellent flexibility in their capacity to play with both three and four at the back. McClaren noted this throughout the tournament and explains why he was impressed with the diversity in build-up their head coach, Mondher Kebaier, has instilled in his team.

Build-up play and progression

Tunisia displayed a preference for building play in the wide areas, looking to go around their opponents and showed intent to win their games.

When you consider their opponents in the final, Algeria, there are some distinct similarities and differences in how both teams approach their game plans. Both try to break lines and progress their build-up play positively, with Jaziri and Msakni being key players in terms of receiving between units 2&3.

Set plays

Tunisia have proved to be a difficult team to deal with when it comes to set plays. They have good height in their team and bring variety to their attacking corner and freekick routines. Indeed, the winning goal against Egypt in the semi-final was from a freekick and, as McClaren points out, strength at set plays can be crucial in tournament football.

Goals scored

In relation to their nine goals scored in the tournament so far, Tunisia have also shown a capacity to score in different ways. Notably two goals have come from counter-pressing, two have come from ball progressions, with another two from freekicks.


Mid block

Having observed Tunisia a number of times throughout the tournament, McClaren explains the areas that he feels could prove crucial for the Eagles of Carthage as they attempt to be crowned FIFA Arab Cup champions.

A key element of Tunisia's out of possession game state was their mid block. This was their preferred defensive platform, opting to regain their shape, maintaining compact distances between their units, so they could close the space between their lines. Against Algeria, who have players who like to play between the units, Tunisia's discipline in this area will be an important factor in the final.


Despite the importance of all the tactics and technical ability, one crucial element remains for any team that wants to win a tournament: mentality!

As we have seen throughout this tournament and in football all over the world, the game can throw up the unexpected at any time. For McClaren, it's in these moments that important things happen. He explains just how important mindset can be:

The FIFA Arab Cup 2021 final takes place at the Al Bayt Stadium at 6pm (Doha time) on Saturday 18th December.

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