Preview: England vs Colombia

Harry Kane Tunisia v England: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

England will be looking to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2006 when they face Colombia at the Spartak Stadium on Tuesday.

2018 FIFA World Cup
3 July 2018
Round of 16
Kick-off: 20:00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Spartak Stadium

Referee: M. Geiger
Assistants: J. Fletcher, F. Anderson
Fourth official: M. Conger

Previous encounter:

Colombia 2-3 England (Friendly) 31/05/2005

Colombia goalscorers: M. Yepes (45′), A. Ramirez (78′)

England goalscorers: M. Owen (36′, 42′, 58′)

Players to watch:

Yerry Mina has been the surprise package of Colombia’s World Cup campaign. An unused substitute during the 2-1 defeat to Japan in Los Cafeteros’ World Cup opener, he started at centre-back in the 3-0 win over Poland and the 1-0 triumph over Senegal, scoring in both games.

It has also been a tournament to remember for attacking midfielder Juan Quintero, who has terrorised opposition backlines with his defence-splitting passes. England will have to be well-guarded against his threat.

At the other end, the Colombians need to watch out for Harry Kane, the tournament’s top scorer in the group stage with five goals. Far from a one-hit wonder, Kane has been in magnificent form since the last World Cup in Brazil, netting 105 times in four Premier League campaigns for Tottenham.

Team form and manager quotes:

Gareth Southgate’s side come into this game on the back of a respectable string of group-stage performances. After a 2-1 win over Tunisia and 6-1 drubbing of Panama, excitement was curbed slightly by a 1-0 defeat to Belgium, but the Three Lions have already improved on their disastrous group-stage exit in Brazil four years ago and optimism remains high.

“I really believe in the group of players we’ve got,” Southgate said. “They are young. They are inexperienced. For some of them, this will be one of the biggest games they’ll have been involved in.

“But maybe not the biggest. We’ve always got to keep that context for the players.”

Colombia are riding high after recovering from a poor start to top Group H. Like his counterpart, Los Cafeteros head coach Jose Pekerman has talked up his team’s chances of success.

“I definitely think England have what it takes to do well, but it will be a match in which Colombia is going to be confident of playing at a high level and getting a good result,” Pekerman told reporters.

However, he acknowledged the threat posed by an England squad in which he detects a similarly optimistic attitude.

“We know that any team that reaches the last 16 is good, we are talking about the best 16 teams in the world,” Pekerman admitted.

“Obviously England can have a good day or an even better day. England is a young team, has a lot of harmony and you can tell they have a lot of faith in themselves.

“Now a different kind of match is heading our way, these will be completely full-on, to the death matches, win or you are out. These are extreme situations.”

Team news:

James Rodriguez is an injury concern for Colombia after going off in the 31st minute of their 1-0 win over Senegal with what reports indicate was a recurrence of a calf injury.

The Bayern Munich star, on loan from Real Madrid, cut a frustrated figure as he trudged down the tunnel without shaking Pekerman’s hand.

Southgate rested several key players for England’s defeat to Belgium and will hope that this decision pays off in Tuesday’s crunch encounter.