England were drawn against Colombia in the last-16 of the World Cup on Thursday, June 28 after finishing second in Group G following their 1-0 defeat to Belgium in their last game.
The Three Lions qualified with six points from a possible nine – after wins in their two opening games against Tunisia and Panama – and many now believe they have a great opportunity to reach the semi-finals due to the luck of their draw (Colombia in the last-16, Sweden/Switzerland in the quarter-finals, Spain/Russia/Croatia/Denmark in the semi-finals).
But are England underestimating Colombia? The South American side reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup – England were eliminated at the group stage. The Three Lions don’t have the best record in tournaments after the group stage, so why are many assuming a victory for Gareth Southgate’s men?
How good are Colombia?
Colombia booked their place in the last-16 of the World Cup after finishing top of Group H with six points from a possible nine. They lost their opener to Japan but recovered with consecutive victories against Poland and Senegal. José Pékerman’s side have made history, as it’s only the third time ever that Colombia have reached the knockouts of a World Cup (1990, 2014, 2018).
They’re a much stronger outfit these days, boasting talent such as David Ospina (Arsenal), Cristián Zapata (AC Milan), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur) Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) and Carlos Bacca (Villarreal).
They’re no slouches and their form ahead of the tournament wasn’t bad either. Colombia had picked up two wins and two draws from their last four internationals prior to the World Cup, beating France and China, while drawing with Australia and Egypt – keeping three clean sheets for their troubles. England shouldn’t underestimate Pékerman’s side, especially given their own poor record in knockout games
How have England fared in knockout games in past tournaments?
England have won the World Cup (1966) and reached a semi-final (1990) but haven’t gone further than the quarter-finals since. The Three Lions have won 10 of their last 24 World Cup games after their antics in 1990, while failing to win a knockout fixture since 2006. They don’t have the best record against big nations in the tournament either.
Since reaching the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup, England have beaten Slovenia (2010), Tunisia (2018) and Panama (2018). It’s a poor record in the tournament and one that will give Colombia a lot of confidence ahead of Tuesday’s fixture. Time will tell if England can finally buck the trend.