Senegal and Colombia clash in the biggest game of Group H yet as both teams eye wins and a place in the knockout stages.
Senegal and Colombia will play out for a place in the knockout rounds of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in what is by far the biggest game of Group H. This group of the World Cup has been a real treat for fans so far and is set to go down to the wire as the two teams along with Japan are in the mix for qualification into the next round.
Senegal have their targets set for the game, as they know a draw against Colombia would seal their entry into the next round. Senegal, however, will be wary of their south Americans opponents who have now bounced back from early disappointment and are currently in their best of form. This game could be Senegal’s biggest test so far in Russia.
Colombia, on the other hand, are in a tricky situation, with Japan also being in the mix for qualification to the next round, as the Asians play the already eliminated Poland and a win over the Europeans would be enough. Colombia’s fate does not lie in their own hands but needs to do everything possible to win.
The scenarios with this group are far and many. To put it simply, for Senegal a win or draw would be enough to guarantee advancement, but a defeat against Colombia and a victory for Japan over Poland would see them crash out. Colombia also needs a win, but if Japan loses or draws their game with the South Americans losing, means it would end their journey. Finally, if Japan loses and Colombia draws Senegal, then the South Americans go through on goal difference.
Team News & Tactics
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse is set to retain most of the side that played out a 2-2 draw against Japan for the Colombia game. His players have performed exceptionally with many other leaders emerging for this Senegal side, all within the team.
Cisse started Senegal’s first game in a 4-3-3 formation which worked brilliantly against Poland but went back to a more conservative 4-2-3-1 against Japan. Against Colombia, he is set to revert to the 4-3-3 in a bid to attack better.
Cisse handed a start to 19-year old right-back Moussa Wague, who put in one of the best performances for Senegal at this World Cup. Wague finished the game with a goal and an assist to his name and is set to start against Colombia. C
Otherwise, the team looks the same as Salif Sane and Kalidou Koulibaly set to marshall the defence while, the likes of M’Baye Niang, Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr leading the attacking line. Idrisa Gueye and Badou Ndiaye set to hold their midfield positions.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3) – K. N’Diaye; Wague, Sane, Koulibaly, Sabaly; Badou, A. N’Diaye, Gueye; Sarr, Niang, Mane
Despite a commanding 3-0 win over Poland in the last matchday, Jose Pekerman is set to ring the changes to his starting lineup, although he would ensure he retains most of the players from the previous game. Pekerman has faced uncertainty in midfield, and that area is where the changes could happen.
Pekerman has always built his side based on few players, who he trusts and Carlos Sanchez is one of them. The midfielder did not have the best of starts after being sent off just three minutes into the World Cup. Sanchez has completed his suspension and could be in line to come back into the starting lineup.
Sanchez’s replacement for the Poland game, Abel Aguilar was stretchered off in the game and replaced by Mateus Uribe, who was expected to retain his place in midfield. But Sanchez’s return may send him back to the bench. Alternatively, Pekerman could yet choose to keep Uribe in the squad at the expense of Sanchez.
The biggest problem in the first game was the attack, as Pekerman’s original plan was to play Juan Quintero and James Rodriguez together, which he was unable to do so in that game. He did it in the second and achieved the desired results; hence it is certain that both those stars start against Senegal. Otherwise, Falcao is set to begin up front, and David Ospina, despite being on the receiving end of some knocks will start in goal.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Ospina; Arias, D.Sanchez, Mina, Mijica; C.Sanchez, Barrios; Cuadrado, Quintero, Rodriguez; Falcao
- Colombia and Senegal have faced each other only once before in a World Cup, back in 2002 with the game ending with a 3-3 score.
- Colombia have won two out of their three meetings with African opposition.
- James Rodriguez has been involved in 10-goals in his last seven World Cup games.
- Against Japan, Moussa Wague became the first African teenager to score a World Cup goal.
- Sadio Mane’s goal against Japan meant, he has now scored against 15 different oppositions and Senegal have lost none of those games.
Player to Watch
After starting the 2018 FIFA World Cup with injury trouble, James Rodriguez expectedly had a slow start in Colombia’s defeat to Japan in the opening game. Pekerman was delighted at the news of his regaining full fitness and promptly started him in their 3-0 win over Poland where the 2014 Golden boot winner shined, scoring a goal.
His partnership with Juan Quintero is evident and is getting everyone excited, but even in that Rodriguez is the key man. He is also Colombia’s main attacking outlet, and a lot will depend on how he plays in the game. He not only possesses the threat of creating goals but is a regular goalscorer for Colombia, especially in big tournaments.
Senegal 2-3 Colombia
Colombia, in their commanding victory over Poland in their last game, showed their class and why they were considered the tournament dark horses. Senegal have been in good form themselves, but Colombia have seasoned World Cup performers and are likely to stamp their superiority on the pitch against Senegal.
This does not mean Senegal are weak. In fact, they have shown a resilience and quality in attack that only a few teams can match. But the variety of Colombia’s attackers, as well as that of Senegal, are set to stretch respective defences, but the South Americans are better equipped in the attacking department, and that will make the difference in this game.