By Robert Wheeler
- Harry Kane still has yet to score this tournament
- Will Rashford or Foden start ahead of Sterling?
- Defeat would likely signal Southgate’s England exit
QATAR- England face Senegal in the Round of 16 and Gareth Southgate faces a selection dilemma ahead of the clash with the current Africa Cup of Nations champions.
England plays Senegal on Sunday and it will be a tough match. Although Aliou Cissé‘s side is without Sadio Mane due to injury they still have Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Ismaila Sarr of Watford in their ranks. The Lions of Teranga know how to progress in major tournaments as they won the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon this year defeating Mohamed Salah‘s Egypt in the final.
Senegal started their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands. However, a 3-1 victory over the host nation Qatar followed by a 2-1 win over Ecuador saw them finish second in their group and progress to the Round of 16.
England’s start to the tournament has been on the whole positive. Gareth Southgate‘s side began with a 6-2 demolition of Iran but a drub 0-0 with the United States was a cause for concern. However, they made up for it in the final game of their group defeating Wales 3-0 in the ‘Battle of Britain.’
Southgate has some big decisions to make ahead of the match against Senegal. His captain Harry Kane still has yet to score a goal but has provided three assists. Whilst it is very unlikely Kane will be dropped Southgate must find a way to get the Golden Boot winner at the last World Cup back amongst the goals.
Marcus Rashford is England’s top goal-scorer at the tournament, with three goals. His double against Wales has put him in a great position to start ahead of Raheem Sterling. Whilst Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet on Tuesday night and there was much disappointment from fans when he was not brought off the bench against the USMNT.
In the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Russia four years ago, the Three Lions defeated Colombia on penalties. However, if this tie goes to penalties then Senegal would be the favourites after they defeated Egypt in the final of AFCON on penalties and booked their place at the World Cup with a shootout victory over the same opposition. They have a great shot-stopper in Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy whilst England lost the Euros last summer on penalties in the final to Italy.
Despite the perils of knockout football, England midfielder Declan Rice has great belief in his side. Speaking to the BBC, the West Ham player said, “Other nations will look at our quality – and why should we not be feared?
“It is up to us to prove that. The likes of France have done that. We’re not just here to get into the last 16, we want to go the whole way.”
If England is to progress then they will play the winners of Poland against France. The favourites for the quarter-final matchup will be the Three Lions against the French. Les Bleus are the reigning champions and this is where many have predicted that England’s tournament will end. However, it has been a tournament of surprising results that has already seen Germany crash out of the competition. Anything can happen at tournament football and Southgate will make sure his side takes one game at a time.
Score prediction: England 1-0 Senegal
England vs Senegal takes place on Sunday, December 4, kicking off at 7 pm.
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