England are looking for their first knockout win in a major competition since 2006 as they take on Group H winners Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup.
How They Qualified
After getting off to a superb start with a stoppage time win against Tunisia followed by a thrashing of Panama, a defeat against Belgium meant England had to settle for 2nd in Group G. Though some will say that defeat against Belgium was the best result for the Three Lions as it put England on ‘the easier side of the draw.’
Meanwhile 2014 quarter finalists Colombia won their group despite losing their first game against Japan. They had to play 87 minutes of that game with 10 men, but they made sure it didn’t matter as wins against Poland and Senegal saw them through as group winners and set up a last 16 tie with England.
England are expected to go back to the lineup that started the first game of the tournament against Tunisia. This was Pickford between the sticks, with wing backs of Trippier on the right and Young on the left. Walker, Maguire and Stones were the three centre backs in that game, while Henderson was the deepest of the central midfielders. Then Lingard, Alli and Sterling were the three sitting behind Striker and Captain, Harry Kane.
The only difference for game number two was Loftus Cheek in for the injured Alli. But Alli has recovered from the thigh injury, meaning he will probably be put straight back in meaning it will probably be nine changes from the weakened lineup in the defeat to Belgium.
Colombia are set to make a late decision on James’ fitness. However, fellow midfielder Abel Aguilar is likely to feature having recovered from the muscle problem that saw him sit out the win over Senegal. Other than that, Colombia are expected to keep the same side that won their final match in Group H.
Head to Head record
The two sides have only ever met once in a World Cup where England recorded a 2-0 win over Colombia in the group stage of the 1998 tournament.
In total, these sides have met five times previously, and England are unbeaten, winning three times and drawing twice. Their last match was an international friendly back in 2005, where England edged a thrilling match 3-2, thanks to Michael Owen’s hat trick.
In my eyes, this will be a very tough and tight game for England. The injury blow to Colombia’s star man James Rodriguez, perhaps give England a slight advantage, but Colombia can’t be underestimated. But with that injury blow and the fact England have had a rest whereas Colombia haven’t, I’ll go England to nick it.
Prediction: Colombia 1-2 England