England vs Colombia - Preview - World Cup 2018

England vs Colombia - Preview - World Cup 2018

England and Colombia will wrap up the Round of 16 in what looks to be a very interesting fixture. Colombia finished top of their group after a 1-0 win over Senegal while England’s defeat at the hands of Belgium means they now have a veritable mountain to climb to make it to the quarter-finals.

The Colombians are arguably the more naturally talented of the two sides, however, Gareth Southgate appears to be getting the best out of his first-choice XI. Let’s take a look:

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FIFA World Cup
England vs Colombia 
Round of 16
Tuesday 3 June 
Spartak Stadium  
16:00

To Win
Colombia 3/1
Draw 2/1
England 21/20

Colombia

The biggest worry for Jose Pekerman and his charges is the injury cloud hovering over James Rodriguez’s head. The Real Madrid man – who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich – was reduced to a cameo appearance in the first game after struggling with a minor calf injury. He played the full 90 minutes against Poland, putting in a Man of the Match shift alongside Juan Quintero and Juan Cuadrado. 

He only lasted around 30 minutes in the final group game against Senegal as he limped meekly from the field. Frustratingly, there has been very little information from the South American’s camp as to the extent of their star man’s injury. James is very much the driving force behind this team and is able to tear teams apart with his mesmerising range of passing – just ask Poland!

Quintero will need to step up if James isn’t available. His link-up play with Falcao will be crucial against a powerful English back three. How well Falcao holds up the ball and brings his midfield into play could well be where this game is won and lost. Even if he isn’t scoring as often as he’d like to, he needs to be able to bring his wildly talented midfield three into play.  

Another battle to keep an eye on will be Davinson Sanchez vs Harry Kane. The Tottenham teammates will get reacquainted with one another in Russia on Tuesday. Don’t be surprised to see some dirty stuff as the Colombians look to keep the English skipper out of the game.  

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England

The English may have sabotaged their own World Cup campaign after their second XI limped to a tame 1-0 defeat against Belgium’s second team. While they will have an easier quarter-final match, they now need to navigate an extremely tricky Last 16 encounter against the South American powerhouse. 

Key to their hopes will be skipper, Kane. He enjoyed a pretty easy time of things against Tunisia and Panama, however, this Colombian side will be the sternest test he faces at this World Cup. Sanchez and Mina have proven to be one of the better centre-half combinations at the finals. 

The Three Lions have been excellent from set plays with the likes of Kane and John Stones both profiting from corners. I doubt they’ll have as much success in this facet of the game against a very organised Colombian back four, though. Still, don’t be surprised to see the English launch aerial bombardments on their opposition.

You have to say it’s refreshing to see an English team pulling in the same direction at a World Cup. Their last few finals appearances have been calamitous affairs with their own media slaughtering them upon returning home. Southgate – while not the most glamourous of managers – certainly is getting the best out of this squad. If they are able to get past the Colombians, they’ll certainly fancy their chances of going really deep in Russia. 

Probable line-ups:
Colombia: 4-2-3-1
Ospina; Mojica, Mina, D. Sanchez, Arias; C. Sanchez; Cuadrado, Quintero, Rodriguez; Falcao

England: 3-5-2
Pickford; Maguire, Stones, Walker; Young Lingard, Henderson, Ali, Trippier; Kane, Sterling

Prediction: Colombia (3/1)
I really do like the look of this Colombian team. They’re all natural ball players and possess the ability to play the English off the park. Whether or not England’s rigid tactical approach will work against such a fluid outfit remains to be seen. 3/1 is a massive price that I simply can’t ignore. Get on the South Americans to pile more World Cup misery on the English.

Written by Jason Dewey

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