Senegal and Colombia are set to clash in a vital game that could decide the fate of Group H, and we look at the three players from this match who could prove critical.
Senegal have the chance of complimenting their historic side of 2002 and making their own mark by reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup knockout rounds. They could undoubtedly achieve their task by beating Group H opponents and fellow hopefuls, Colombia when the two sides meet.
The tie becomes tricky with the involvement of Japan, the Group’s other team who too are eyeing a place in the next round with four points from two games to their name, as they face the already eliminated Poland in their last group game. The Senegal-Colombia tie, however, holds significant decisiveness to determine who goes through to the next round.
Colombia are on three points from two games and Senegal with four coming into this game. A win for Colombia coupled with either a Japanese draw or win would see them both go through. If Senegal are to win, then they undoubtedly go through, but a draw with Colombia would take an exciting turn in the group for Japan and the South Americans.
Who are the three players tipped to shine on the pitch during Senegal vs Colombia?
Sadio Mane – Senegal
Senegal have played some good football in their first two games, winning one and drawing the other. Such form has put them in an excellent position to qualify for the next round. Despite the Africans being ahead of their South American counterparts, they would still need a result out of this game to guarantee qualification, and one player needs to make the step up.
Sadio Mane has been decent so far in the World Cup, but far below of what was expected of him, following a high season with his club Liverpool. Mane was considered the spearhead for Senegal before the World Cup and any pre-tournament talk involving Senegal, had to include Mane, but so far he hasn’t lived up to his reputation.
With two games played and four goals scored by Senegal, Mane’s contribution has been in only one of them, coming in the last game, courtesy of some luck. But he needs to make a significant step and be the leading man for Senegal again if they have to qualify.
James Rodriguez – Colombia
Since his breakthrough to be known as a superstar in international football back in the 2014 World Cup, James Rodriguez has now become Colombia’s most important player. In their first game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a loss to Japan, his absence was deeply felt as he battled to be fit and only played a small part as a second-half substitute
When he did prove his fitness and reinstated into the starting lineup by Jose Pekerman for their second game against Costa Rica, he showed what they missed in the first game and duly took over the leading role for Colombia, and showed his class on the pitch with a comprehensive performance.
Rodriguez, however, is yet to open his account at this World Cup and reach the same goalscoring heights of the last edition where he won the Golden Boot for his six strikes but has already registered two assists so far. Against Senegal, he will be the one the Africans need to watch out for, as he could have a devastating effect on them and subsequently become the reason if Colombia are to beat Senegal and qualify for the knockout rounds.
The 25-year-old midfielder has seen his rise under the shadow of Colombia’s more established stars. Having been a consistent performer for his club Porto, he has now become one of the prominent members of this Colombia side’s starting lineup.
Jose Pekerman had clear ideas before the World Cup, as he wanted to combine the powers of Quintero and that of his star man James Rodriguez, which apparently has been the formula for this World Cup campaign. Due to Rodriguez’ substitute role in the first game and incidentally coming off in place for Quintero did not help matters, the second game did show what Pekerman was trying to do.
When they did play together, Quintero was the star of the second game against Costa Rica. Combining well with James Rodriguez, he has shown a different class to his game. Quintero already has a goal and an assist to his name in Russia and will be looking to add to that against Senegal. He is the player the Africans need to be really wary of.