Moscow, July 2 (IANS) England will try and overcome the weight of history of knockout heartbreaks in recent past when they face Colombia in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup here on Tuesday while the South American outfit will attempt to secure a place in the quarter-finals for the second time in succession.
England changed nine of their outfield players as they lost to Belgium in their last group game. Coach Gareth Southgate will know if that was the right policy as he looks to lead England to their first win in the knockout stage of a major tournament since World Cup 2006.
Southgate has all his squad available except for Fabian Delph, who flew back to the UK on Friday for the birth of his third child, with Dele Ali expected to replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield after a calf strain saw him sidelined against Panama and Belgium, reports Xinhua news agency.
John Stones should have no problems playing in defence after he was seen with an ice-bag on his calf after being substituted at half time against Belgium with Southgate saying that had always been his intention.
Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker will partner Jones in a three-man defence, while Kieran Trippier has adjusted his role well as a wing-back, putting in a good shift in defending and joining the attack build-up.
Jordan Henderson has been operating well in shielding the defence. With the Liverpool defensive midfielder also having improved his passing game, England are creating a lot of chances.
Harry Kane will be England’s main danger with the leader of the race for the 2018 Golden Boot looking to add to the five goals he scored in the first two matches.
In attack, he will have the support of Raheem Sterling while attacking midfielders like Ali and Jesse Lingard are good enough to trouble any opposition.
England have shown themselves to be a huge threat from set pieces with six of the eight goals they have scored in Russia scored from dead-ball situations.
Colombia will look to big central defender Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez to counteract that threat. The Barcelona stopper has scored two goals himself following set pieces taken by Juan Quintero.
Santiago Arias and Johan Mojica are guarantees at right-back and left-back, while Carlos Sanchez may be picked to play in a midfield of three, alongside Jefferson Lerma.
The 25-year-old Quintero, along with Juan Cuadrado, could find himself tasked with providing Colombia’s creative play if James Rodriguez is unfit, with veteran Radamel Falcao leading their attack.
James has been struggling with a muscle problem all through the competition and had to be replaced after just 30 minutes in Colombia’s last game against Senegal and his loss would be a major blow to the South Americans.
Hopes are high among the English and even more so with a possible quarter-final against Sweden or Switzerland, but to reach the quarter-finals they need first to get past Colombia … and 12 years of disappointment.