Is this the year that England will go the full mile after their sole triumph in 1966? Gareth Southgate has been lauded for instigating a paradigm shift in playing philosophy. But in Colombia, they will come up against an experienced side, which would be ready to punish any mistakes.
Harry Kane already has five goals in his kitty, aged just 24. Colombia’s Radamel Falcao scored his first World Cup goal at 32 and both are their country’s leading men. Will experience trump youth? If James Rodriguez fails to get on the pitch, England will have won a minor battle even before the war starts.
Head to head
30/05/05 Friendly Colombia 2 – 3 England
26/06/98 World Cup Colombia 0 – 2 England
05/09/95 Friendly England 0 – 0 Colombia
Current Form [Last 5 matches]
Three duels to watch
Juan Quintero v Jordan Henderson
In the absence of James Rodriguez, Quintero has been pulling the strings in midfield while the effectiveness of Henderson means an effective England team.
Davinson Sanchez v Harry Kane
Teammates at Tottenham, Sanchez will hope the things he learned at their training sessions for the EPL team will come in handy against England’s captain, who already has five goals to his name in Russia.
Radamel Falcao v John Stones
Stones must concentrate100 per cent and not make his usual mistake per game or else Falcao will pounce and punish. The inability to cut it in the EPL will be more inspiration for the Colombian goal poacher.
Referee in charge: The 43-year-old Mark Geiger is an American, and has been FIFA-graded since 2008. He handled Germany’s last group match against South Korea. He has shown seven yellow cards in the two matches he has handled.
WORLD CUP FACT: Only one team has ever reached the quarterfinals after losing its opening game, which Colombia lost 2-1 to Japan.
Prediction: This looks likely to be decided on penalties.