The meeting between Colombia and England at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow Tuesday evening represents the last of the Round of 16 fixtures at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. Only one of the two can take the remaining quarter-final berth and keep their dreams alive of lifting the title aloft.
Colombia have never managed to beat the Three Lions, with the most recent encounter ending in a 2-0 win for England at France 1998. Jose Pekerman’s side sealed passage to the knockout stages in Russia with a victory over Senegal in their final group match to finish top of their section, but are yet to fully tap into the attacking potential of a side spearheaded by Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. The latter, who was top scorer at Brazil 2014, has been plagued by injury and is rated doubtful for this game.
England won their first two group assignments and will primarily rely on the individual quality of players such as Dele and Harry Kane. Their last outing against Belgium did little to shed any light on the true strength of the side as Gareth Southgate opted to rest a number of first team regulars. This game against Los Cafeteros will therefore be the first true measure of his young England side.
Colombia will be hoping to repeat their achievement from the 2014 finals by reaching the last eight for a second time, and aim to do so by dominating possession and controlling the tempo of the game.
Whether or not they succeed will depend on their ability to find gaps in England’s defence, especially on the wings, as well as stifling the Three Lions’ rapid counter-attacks.
Colombia: David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina, Johan Mojica; Carlos Sanchez, Mateus Uribe; Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero, Luis Muriel; Falcao
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Dele, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane