Both Colombia and England will back themselves to prevail in their Round of 16 encounter at Moscow.
Both Colombia and England will back themselves to prevail in their round of 16 encounter at Moscow.
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England got off to a positive start, scoring eight goals and conceding only one against Tunisia and Panama before fielding an under strength team and consequently losing to Belgium.
After a stuttering start against Japan, Colombia emerged as toppers in a tricky group, winning their last two games against Poland and Senegal.
In a match, filled with attacking talent, defensive discipline and midfield shape may prove key.
After conceding an early red card and a goal, Colombia went on to control large parts of the game against Japan with ten men, before conceding a late goal.
Juan Quintero, who started ahead of James Rodriguez, was sensational at the no. 10 role as he dropped deep to receive the ball from the centre backs and played cross field balls.
A cheeky free kick underneath the wall helped his cause and he started alongside James Rodriguez against Poland.
The results were beyond expectations as the duo of no. 10s ran riot by overloading the Polish midfield.
Rodriguez and Quintero provided all three assists in the 3-0 victory with Colombia announcing themselves in the tournament.
An injury to Rodriguez against Senegal meant that Colombia lost a bit of their creative edge, holding on to a 1-0 victory.
Carlos Sanchez, the Espanyol loanee, who got sent off against Japan, made a comeback to the starting XI against Senegal, and looked off pace.
Veteran Argentine manager, Jose Pekerman, might look to replace Sanchez with the youthful and high energy Wilmar Barrios, especially considering his solid performance in the second game as Sanchez’s replacement.
With James Rodriguez doubtful due to a recurring calf injury, a double pivot of Manuel Uribe and Barrios would be the ideal high pressing pairing to harry the likes of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli.
Jose Izquierdo, the Brighton and Hove Albion winger, may replace James on the left wing with his pace and familiarity of the English players being an added bonus.
Colombia tactically will look to get Quintero into attacking positions, and use his vision to release the front three of Izquierdo, Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao.
Balancing a pressing style with periods of possession could be the strategy Pekerman adopts to lead Colombia to consecutive World Cup quarter finals.
The England campaign thus far has been marked by positivity and absence of controversy.
Usually associated with confusion over player roles and formations, England look settled in tactical terms.
Gareth Southgate’s formation of playing 3 centre backs, and two versatile attacking midfielders indicate that the manager has revolved the tactics around the strengths of his players rather than pigeonhole them in unfamiliar positions like managers of the past.
Due to a lack of wingers and quality central midfielders, England have opted to create width through wing backs and replace a central midfielder with an extra centre back.
Most, if not all, players in the starting XI have had good league seasons and Southgate is creating the right tactical atmosphere for these players to succeed at the World Cup.
Albeit a great start, England have not yet faced a full strength team with top class attacking talents.
A physically imposing and classy Colombia midfield, alongside an electric attack will be the first major test for the Three Lions.
Cuadrado, an out and out right winger, could pose problems to the ageing and right footed Ashley Young.
To combat Cuadrado’s direct approach, Southgate might replace Young with winger Danny Rose.
In the holding midfield role, Southgate can either choose the control of Eric Dier or the robust energy of Jordan Henderson.
England will look to get their full backs ahead and bombard crosses into the box, hoping the likes of Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane get into goal scoring positions.
Player to Watch
Juan Cuadrado: A last of a dying breed, Cuadrado, is infuriating and exhilarating in equal measure. With great close control and speed, he can run past defenders at will and it's his decision making in the final third, which leaves much to be desired.
Against a lightweight midfield and an attacking full back, releasing Cuadrado into space could be the most potent weapon the Colombians have in their arsenal.
Jesse Lingard: Last summer, Lingard was a bit part player for both club and country. In a year’s time, he has established himself as a starter for both, emerging as a versatile, hard running and tactically aware attacking midfielder with a penchant for goals.
Lingard will be expected to provide defensive balance by helping his full backs as well as being a threat in offence, through his runs from midfield. The selfless play of Lingard will be crucial to England’s plans of progressing further.
Ospina- Arias, Mina, Davinson Sanchez, Mojica- Uribe, Barrios- Cuadrado, Quintero, Izquierdo- Falcao.
Pickford- Walker, Stones, Maguire- Henderson- Trippier, Lingard, Alli, Rose- Sterling, Kane.
First Published: Jul 3, 2018 4:12 PM IST