Tonight England face Colombia in Moscow with a place in the World Cup quarter finals on the line. England begin as marginal favourites against an unpredictable opponent in an unpredictable tournament.
Last night saw Japan a side some argued England should have aimed to face by beating Belgium gave the Belgians an almighty scare taking a 2 goal lead before losing in injury time. Colombia were brilliant in the 2014 World Cup but have been inconsistent in this one. In their opener they were down to 10 men after 3 minutes and lost 2-1 to Japan, they were outstanding in the second half of their second game as they ripped through Poland and then underwhelmed in their win over Senegal. The main reasons they were so much better against Poland was the talismanic James Rodriguez was fit and started whilst the Poles didn’t press giving the talented Colombians time to play with James pulling the strings.
The fitness of Rodriguez had dominated the build up to this game after he limped out of the Senegal game and Colombia coach Jose Peckerman has only confirmed he doesn’t have a muscle tear. It could just be a bluff and James is fine but it seems more likely he’s not fully fit and will only start on the bench. England meanwhile have a clean bill of health and most of the likely starting lineup having not played in 9 days. It seems England will play the team that started the tournament against Tunisia with Dele Alli returning to the line up.
In terms of dangermen other than James former Chelsea & Manchester United loanee Rademal Falcao has found a new lease of life at old club Monaco and gave John Stones a tough time in the 2017 Champions League. At the other end Harry Kane will be marshalled by Spurs teammate Davinson Sanchez but England will likely use the speed of Sterling & Lingard to play around the Colombian defence.
England are in the easier half of the draw but so are Colombia- the winner of this game will probably be seen as favourites to make the final. I think will do it their pace and high pressing game could overwhelm Colombia but they must take their chances and be wary of the pacey counter attacks Colombia could offer.
Prediction: England 2-1 Colombia