Colombia v England preview: James Rodriguez a doubt as Gareth Southgate eyes rare knockout win
Last Updated: 03/07/18 7:24pm
England and Colombia clash in the World Cup last 16 on Tuesday with Gareth Southgate urging his side to make their own history with a rare knockout stage win.
England made a positive impression in the early stages of the tournament and are now looking to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006.
"It is 10 years since we have won a knockout fixture," said the England head coach at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
"For this team, this is a brilliant opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams have before them. The lads have got the chance to write their own stories."
The tournament is considered wide open following the elimination of Germany, Spain and Argentina, but Southgate refuses to get carried away with his team's chances.
"We have been in this position before many times over the last however many years," he added. "It is pointless to think about what might happen after the game here.
"We will focus on the game and our performance and everything will fall into place from there.
"Maybe the teams who aren't here weren't as strong this time. If teams are beating Spain and Germany they have also got to be respected. We haven't even discussed anything beyond [Tuesday]."
For Colombia, doubts still persist over whether star man James Rodriguez will be fit to start for the South Americans in Moscow.
James, 26, went off injured during Colombia's 1-0 win over Senegal on Thursday that saw Jose Pekerman's side seal top spot in Group H.
The playmaker missed training on Friday and Saturday, and a scan subsequently showed he has a swelling in his right calf, though the Colombian football federation says the muscle is not torn.
The Colombia boss is confident James will be fit to start at the Otkritie Arena: "We had good news after his medical tests. After his MRI (scan) we knew that he doesn't have a serious injury.
"We still have one-and-a-half days to see how he feels, and as always we hope that he will be able to play in the following games."
If the Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup misses the game, though, Pekerman suggested Sevilla forward Luis Muriel could replace him in the starting XI.
"Muriel is an option," he said. "He was great during the match against Senegal.
"He was able to change the pace, he's technically gifted and really fast. He works well with the team."
England are expected to revert to the side that started against Tunisia. That means midfielder Dele Alli has recovered from the thigh injury he picked up in that opening Group G win.
Meanwhile, 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 that final Group H win.
- England are unbeaten against Colombia, having faced them five times previously (W3 D2). Their last encounter dates back to May 2005 in New Jersey. England won 3-2 thanks to a Michael Owen hat-trick
- England beat Colombia in their only previous World Cup encounter thanks to goals from Darren Anderton and David Beckham (2-0), it was in the group stages of the 1998 tournament. Current England boss Gareth Southgate was an unused sub that night
- Colombia have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for the third time but it's the first time they have accomplished it in consecutive tournaments (1990, 2014, 2018). The only previous occasion they've gone past the round of 16 was in 2014
- Three of Colombia's five goals at this year's World Cup have come from set-pieces (two from corners, one from direct free kick) whilst England scored more goals from dead-ball situations than any other team in the group stages (6)
- Colombia have scored in each of their last eight World Cup games, the longest current run of any team as of the end of the 2018 group stages. The last time Colombia failed to find the net in the tournament was in June 1998 against England (0-2)
- None of Colombia's 21 games at the World Cup has ended goalless. In fact, only the USA (33) and Austria (29) have played more games in the competition without ever registering a 0-0
- England have won only two of their last eight knockout games at the World Cup (v Denmark in 2002, v Ecuador in 2006). They had progressed in six of their eight previous games in the knockout phase
Merse: I watched Colombia the other day and there's nothing to be scared of there for England. They are dangerous at set plays but we are as good as anybody at set plays. In truth, they've been poor and they also had James Rodriguez limp out of the Senegal game which is a concern for them.
I was sat there watching the Belgium game and hoping England didn't score. If we don't get to the last four I'd be shocked. At the start of the tournament we were saying that if we'd get past the quarter-finals it'd be great but if we don't get to a semi-final now it won't have been a very good tournament.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2
Charlie: So England have dropped into the half of the draw which has an easier route to the final. Well, there is no easy route to the final because there are tough teams waiting at every turn. You ask the Germans now whether they'd like to be in the hard side of the draw and they'd all be nodding their heads.
England will have a very difficult game against Colombia in my opinion. The only thing that gives England a very slight edge is the injury scare to James Rodriguez. If he's out it's a massive blow for Colombia, however, don't be fooled into thinking the South Americans are not a threat. They are a very dangerous side and a very physical one at that.
It's a very tight game to call. I'm going for 1-1 in 90 minutes but England will benefit from resting a few last Thursday and I think the tide will turn in their favour in extra-time. I see one of England's substitutes coming on and making all the difference in the extra 30 minutes.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 - England to win in extra time