Vodacom Red Preview: Bold Colombia up against confident England

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Los Cafeteros are riding high from two successive wins ahead of their round of 16 clash with the Three Lions who were upset by Belgium on Thursday

After a frustrating opener against Japan which ended in a 2-1 defeat and a red card, Colombia quickly recovered, brushing aside Robert Lewandowski's Poland 3-0 and edging Senegal 1-0 to top Group H with 6 points.

The South Americans’ success so far in the tournament could largely be attributed to their inexhaustible stamina, which is mostly highlighted in the second half of their games, during which most of their goals are scored.

Their defence has lived up to expectations as well, conceding just one goal from three games, with Barcelona centre-back Yerry Mina currently playing the opposite role as the team’s top scorer with two goals.

As usual, Radamel Falcao and Yuan Cuadrado would be the men to watch out for up field, although the Monaco star is being criticized back home for ‘not doing enough’ to carry the outfit in the competition.

Creative midfielder James Rodriguez limped out of their previous game with Senegal, and could pass fit for the England clash after a scan on Sunday showed no muscle tear.

Colombia boast just one quarterfinal berth at the tournament since their debut campaign in 1962. It was achieved in 2014 under current coach Jose Pekerman, who is looking for a repeat of that feat... and perhaps more this time.

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England have been very impressive so far in the tournament. Their lone goal loss to Belgium in Group G’s third matchday did not expose any dramatic weakness in the setup as they rested many players.

After a well-fought 2-1 victory over Tunisia, the team went on to crush Panama 6-1 to book a place in the round of 16 before their final group game against the Red Devils.

The 1966 champions have reached the quarterfinals 16 times but last made it there in Germany.

With Harry Kane standing as the current top scorer with 5 goals, England are not settling for anything less. They are ambitious and are probably eyeing the ultimate already.         

However, Colombia could be a complicated package to do away with easily. Gareth Southgate’s charges need to keep their guard up for 90 minutes to avoid unhealthy surprises.

The England vs Colombia game would be another interesting meeting which could be decided by either individual brilliance or collective effort.

   

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