World Cup 2018: England can beat Colombia until the Falcaos come home

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World Cup 2018: England can beat Colombia until the Falcaos come home

CommentBy Neil Ashton29th June 2018, 10:30 pmUpdated: 29th June 2018, 10:30 pm

THERE is every reason to believe.

For all the puffing up of Radamel Falcao, Juan Quintero, Juan Cuadrado and - fitness permitting - James Rodriguez over the next few days, Colombia can be beaten.

England can beat Radamel Falcao and Co if they knuckle down

England’s challenge is to shake off the reputations, to press the master reset button after defeat to Belgium and book a place in the quarter-final.

It can be done, it really can.

Southgate is not ready to go home just yet and neither are the players who opened up the World Cup campaign with the dramatic victory over Tunisia and the uplifting 6-1 win over Panama.

The country dared to dream when Harry Kane, an unused substitute in the 1-0 defeat against Belgium, overtook Cristiano R onaldo as top scorer.

England are easily good enough to make it past their first knockout test
England got off to a flying start in tournament with wins over Tunisia and Panama

Kane will be back in the England side on Tuesday, fully refreshed and raring to go. The captain has match-winning qualities.

Southgate has billed this as the biggest England game in ten years, piling the pressure on as he takes the country into do-or-die football.

The last knockout win was against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup and we have been waiting patiently for something to stir ever since.

Memories of Panama, of Kane’s hat-trick and Jesse Lingard’s magnificent strike in Nizhny, started the ball rolling.

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< figcaption> Gareth Southgate must forget all about Colombia's strong reputation

England, playing at full tilt against Jose Pekerman’s awkward Colombians, can do this.

They cannot be intimidated by those striking yellow shirts or the sight of Carlos Valderamma jetting in to Moscow with his mane of hair following in his slipstream.

England’s head coach is taking the country into their first knockout game at a World Cup since they were blown away in Bloemfontein 4-1 by Germany in 2010.

And he said: “It’s exciting. We’ve got the chance to be the team that changes that record.

“It’s one of the reasons why we made the changes against Belgium, in order to give ourselves the best possible opportunity.

“It’s going to be a brilliant game to be involved in. It looked like Colombia had 30,000-40,000 fans in the stadium in their final group game.

“I went to two of their games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazi l and they were incredible occasions. They have some top players, some top attacking players in particular.”

England lost to Belgium, but a full-strength team can easily beat Colombia

They do come with a reputation.

If there is one result England will be wary of more than any other, it will be Colombia’s eye-catching win against France last March in a friendly.

France, highly-fancied to win this World Cup, were beaten 3-2 by Colombia in their own backyard.

They came from 2-0 down to do it, with goals from Luis Muriel, captain Radamel Falcao and the winner from Juan Quintero.

When these boys pull on the shirt of the national team they turn into different players.
England must overcome that.

They lost their nerve in Sao Paolo in 2014, bullied by Luis Suarez when he scored twice for Uruguay to knock England out. Colombia will be similar.

Southgate added: “Cuadrado at Juve has been a top , top performer. If you’re at clubs like Bayern and Real Madrid the level is so high it’s a different level to other clubs.

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"These are top players. We also have some top players and some players who are on their way to being top players.

“We’re now playing against a different level of opposition.

“We are still a long way from being perfect, but there were still moments from a lot of those players against Belgium when they showed what they’re capable of.

“That will give them individual belief. This is my responsibility, but I thought players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford had a brilliant learning experience to be involved against Belgium.”

They cannot possibly start against Colombia though.

Loftus-Cheek was a major disappointment against Belgium, losing confidence when he hesitated on the edge of the area when he should have taken a chance first time.

That is what playing for England can do because if it was a training ground drill, or a Premier League game for Crystal Palace, he would have smacked that.

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The fear factor was supposed to be eliminated under Southgate, but it showed up again in places in Kaliningrad.

It means Southgate is likely to go back to the team who beat Tunisia in the opening group game, with Dele Alli returning from injury.

Whatever team he picks, England have to do whatever is necessary to win this knockout game.

S outhgate added: “We are playing against the best players in the world.

"At times we have had a squad with real top players and at times we have had a squad with not so many outstanding players who’ve been in those knockout situations.

"There’ve been many different reasons for not getting over the line.”

This time they have to.

Dele Alli and Harry Kane join in with exercise bike challenge at the England World Cup base campSource: Google News Colombia | Netizen 24 Colombia

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