Is it coming home? Is it coming home for Christmas? Well, England impressed in the group stages, winning Group B outright, and scoring nine goals in the first three games. It sets up an interesting round of 16 battle on Sunday: Three Lions vs the Lions of Teranga.
Let’s preview the knockout round clash of England vs. Senegal.
World Cup Group B FYIs
Kickoff: 1pm CST, Sunday Dec. 4
Transatlantic Passage: How the Premier League Redefined Soccer in America: LINK
World Cup Highest Finish: England 1st, 1966 Senegal quarterfinals, 2002
Previous World Cup appearances: England 15 Senegal 2
Team News for Both Sides
Ben White has left the England team, due to undisclosed personal reasons. More on that here. He is the only Three Lions absentee as the squad trained in full on Thursday. Meanwhile Senegal will still be without Cheikhou Kouyate. Elsewhere Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is suspended for this match.
Senegal, the reigning African champions are of high quality and great depth as they have Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo and Ismaila Sarr. They would be even stronger if they had former Liverpool man, and now Bayern Munich winger Sadio Mane, but the sensational scorer was too injured to feature in this tournament.
England manager Gareth Southgate made some changes, to his attack and his midfield, last time out. Let’s see what sticks with the squad rotation. Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden scored the goals against Wales, so I expect both to stay in the first team for the next clash. The former is the surprise front-runner for the Golden Boot award, at this early stage.
Kyle Walker impressed at right-back, showing he’s fully 100% fit, so expect him to keep his place over Kieran Trippier and the still yet to feature Trent Alexander-Arnold.
England Starting XI Prediction vs Senegal
Score Prediction: England 2, Senegal 1
This will be tightly contested, as it is features two stellar sides, but anything worse than a semi-finals showing for Three Lions would be considered a massive bust. Look for England to move on.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”