FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Colombia vs England PREVIEW
One of the most anticipated games in the knockouts stages. The high flying Colombians are taking on the youthful England side who are hoping to bring it home after 52 years. Colombia could miss their star man James, but they still have a lot of talent going forward. England have looked the best they have in quite a while on a major tournament. Expect an entertaining encounter between the two.
This is Colombia’s 3rd ever knockout stage at the world cup, highest finish being the quarters in 2014. Colombia have been given a golden opportunity to have their best ever world cup, but it starts with a huge test against England. If they go through, they would all of a sudden be dubbed as favourites to reach their first ever semi. However, they are coming into this game still unsure whether star man James Rodriguez will be fit enough to play after being subbed off after 30 minutes against Senegal. Colombia managed to top their group even after losing their opening game to Japan 1-2 where they played with 10 men and without James for 75 minutes. Then Colombia bounced back by pouncing Poland 3-0 in their best performance of the tournament where they looked simply unstoppable with James seemed to have been back to full fitness and playing unreal. However, in the final game as mentioned James had to be taken off after 30 minutes so Colombia had to win the game without him and they did so thanks to a header by Mina from a corner to give them a 1-0 over Senegal which not only meant that Colombia advanced, but they also topped the group thanks to Japan losing their last game.
Colombia have been a very good team going forward and this year with James being in and out of the lineup, one man that has filled in his boots has been Juan Quintero. He’s been Colombia’s best creative player of the tournament delivering at least a goal or an assist every game. Quintero has been very good from set pieces, being the one who delivered the winning goal against Senegal and scoring a free kick against Japan. When James played that one game fully fit against Poland he was ridiculously good. Cuadrado and Falcao have been up and down. Defensively, Davinson Sanchez has been incredible, especially against Senegal, he made some key tackles in that game while his partner Yerri Mina has been good too, he actually has been a massive threat from set pieces scoring 2 headed goals in this tournament already including the one against Senegal. Finally Ospina has been very good in goal for Colombia. They’ve been a tough side to break down, dangerous from set pieces and showed good attacking football with a fully fit James. Colombians will be very tough to beat with or without their star man.
It has been a world cup that has provided hope for the England fans. England will be looking to win their first major tournament knockout game since 2006 against Ecuador, yes it has been 12 long years since England have won a knockout game. England have been an entertaining side during this tournament although many would say they’ve been lucky regarding on who they played. England finished second in Group G that featured Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. England beat Tunisia to start their campaign 2-1 after a late winner by Harry Kane. It was a tough, character testing game and England overcame it. In the second game, it was easy. England smashed Panama 6-1 and guaranteed qualification to R16. In the final game we saw England rest their main guns against Belgium because both teams qualified to R16 already. England lost 0-1, but it’s not something to stress about, most of the players will most likely feature on the bench that players against Belgium in this game anyway and some would say that loss was a good thing due to the fact that England fell into the easier bracket, but only Southgate truly knows whether they threw that game away. In the tournament so far, Harry Kane has been a goal machine scoring 5 goals in two games that he played, he’s the top scorer and already has a hattrick. Lingard has been sensational overall going forward while Henderson has been great in midfield. England’s backline has been a little suspect however, they haven’t made the system work as fluently at the back as they have at the front. They failed to keep clean sheets in any game which is something they have to work on. But overall, you’d have to be confident about the way England have looked, especially in the form that Harry Kane is in. This may be their first knockout win in 12 years and maybe we’ll start to believe about the world cup “coming home”, but it could all turn sour too.
This is a game where you can expect both teams to go for it. It really depends on whether James plays if Colombia will try to hold possession or will try to hit England on counters. Ever since the new implemented system by Southgate, England have turned into an attacking side, they have a lot of pace going forward with Sterling and Lingard on the wings. Dele Alli is expected to be back and retake the starting spot from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Other than that, expect England to play the same team they played against Panama. Colombia have shown throughout the tournament that they can play both styles, attacking and defending. We saw how they demolished Poland playing attacking football and then held off Senegal and stole the win playing on the back foot. If James plays then we can expect Colombia to hold the ball more and be more of a threat, if James is out then expect England to dominate more of the game. Midfield battle is going to be key, whichever midfield performs better then that team will win. The keys for England is to not crumble under the pressure, we’ve seen what happened to England in the recent tournaments and they must forget that. They can’t allow Colombia freedom going forward because they have a world class finisher in Falcao with good creative players around even without James. For, Colombia they need to continue to defend the way they’ve done throughout the tournament, Sanchez and Mina has been a solid partnership and they must make it as tough as possible for red hot Kane and co. Colombia simply can’t let the fact that James could be out distract them. They have good players and they must believe they can do it even if their leader is out.
The uncertainty of whether James Rodriguez plays really makes this a tough game to predict. But even if he plays, is he going to be 100%? Highly unlikely and that’s why we pick England because you can’t afford to not have your best player not being 100% like Colombia. It’s been far too long since England won a knockout game at a major tournament, they look exciting and confident this year and they have an incredible chance to go deep in the tournament. Sure, this won’t be an easy game for England, Colombia will threaten, both teams should score goals but essentially you’d have to give England the edge, they have more game changers in the squad and Harry Kane is playing at the highest level of his career. We think England will win this game 2-1. Harry Kane will come through with the winner.
ODDS – Decimal
Colombia Win (90 mins) – 4.00
Draw (90 mins) – 3.20
England Win (90 mins) – 2.15
To Qualify – Colombia 2.50 – England 1.50
KICK OFF – 3rd July 2018 – 7pm UK Time