England and Columbia will square off in the final World Cup Round of 16 tilt on Tuesday at 2 p.m. The winner will face either Sweden or Switzerland, depending on who comes out on top in that earlier matchup, while the loser must pack their bags and depart.
The 2018 World Cup has seen a dramatic increase in ‘set piece’ (plays that start with a dead ball, such as a corner kick) goals, and no team has been more successful with these plays than England. The ‘Three Lions’ have already found the back of the net six times on set pieces alone despite being blanked by Belgium in their most recent match. Team captain Harry Kane, who has recorded the most goals in the tournament by any player so far (5), has two of those set piece goals, both of which were penalty kicks.
The aforementioned defeat England suffered against Belgium has a big asterisk next to it, as manager Gareth Southgate sat many of his best players, including Kane, in order to draw into the easier side of the bracket. But midfielder Dele Alli, who is fit to suit up after missing the last two contests, is not concerned about a potential loss of momentum.
“The manager made a decision and we all back him,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We didn’t lose any momentum. We’re all fighting and raring to go, and can’t wait for the next game.”
Southgate has offered hope that England can reverse its historically poor form. In 21 games as manager, he’s won 12, drawn six and lost only three times. England hasn’t been past the Round of 16 since 2006.
Columbia, meanwhile, has struggled to find their best stride in the 2018 World Cup. They dropped their opening match to Japan, 2-1, though they played with 10 men for 87 minutes due to midfielder Carlos Sanchez’s red card. ‘Los Cafeteros’ crushed Poland 3-0 in their next match but looked shaky in a 1-0 win over Senegal when last seen.
Even more concerning is the fitness level of James Rodriguez, the leading goal scorer in the 2014 World Cup, who missed parts of Columbia’s games with Japan and Senegal, including the final 60 minutes of that latter tilt. If Rodriguez doesn’t start, that could make Columbia’s attack too reliant on Radamel Falcao.
England is the consensus favorite to advance according to oddsmakers, listed in the +105 (risking $100 to profit $105) range at most locations. England must win in regulation time, but this seems like a fair price.