World Cup scouting report: England beware, dangerous looking Colombia lie in wait

England now faces Colombia having lost on Thursday night and finished second in their group. After this defeat, Senegal were evicted from the competition when, after finishing level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan, their inferior disciplinary record told. Suddenly winning the group looked a very palatable option for the English. Because frankly, facing the South Americans will not be easy.

Yerry Mina celebrates after scoring Colombia's winner on Thursday – his second from a set piece at this year's World Cup CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Let’s start with the most glaringly obvious: there is no doubt which set of fans will win the battle of noise when England meet the South Americans. The Samara Arena was a sea of yellow, with one little patch of constantly dancing green. Colombians had bought up 75 per cent of the tickets, filling the place with a Latin American rhythm and an unceasing broiling racket, which reached a crescendo when they took the lead late in the second half.

Mind, the Colombian hordes had little to cheer in the first half as Senegal controlled the pace and flow of the game. Indeed Gareth Southgate will have seen enough from the way Senegal played against the Colombians to appreciate they are by no means unbeatable.
Promoted Stories

They had been brilliant in their previous outing against Poland, exploiting space, moving and creating. But Senegal weren’t Poland. The way the Aliou Cisse’s side harried and badgered the Colombians was a pointer to what England might do. Everton’s Idrissa Gueye provided real snap in the centre. Like a budget N’Golo Kanté he was everywhere, sniping and breaking up play. Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson will have taken note.

Senegal’s squeeze meant James Rodríguez, who had looked back to his best against the Poles, suddenly had nowhere to turn. Juan Quintero and Radamel Falcao were equally constrained. There was none of the time and space to work the ball to Juan Cuadrado as the Poles had allowed them.

It made matters worse when, after just half an hour, Rodríguez limped off straight down the tunnel after a flare-up of the calf problem that had constricted his contribution during the defeat to Japan. It was the last thing the Colombians wanted to see. His return had really perked the team up after their defeat to Japan. Now he was off. And if he has not recovered in time for the Round of 16, it will offer a huge fillip to England. Because there is no doubt who makes Colombia tick.

But there is one area England really will have to watch. Colombia is dangerous from a corner. Here, for the second game in succession, Yerry Mina, the Barcelona reserve center-back, got his head to a set piece, sparking extraordinary celebrations in the stands. John Stones and Harry Maguire are not the only ones who know what they are doing at corner kicks.