STAR PREVIEW: Tuesday’s World Cup games

Sweden v Switzerland
FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16
15:00 BBC One

With the top seeds on this side of the draw dropping like flies, there’s suddenly a huge opportunity for one of these two sides to go deep. One of these two, Colombia, England, Croatia or Russia will line up in the final next Sunday and it will be interesting to see how these affects the mindset of the players here.

Both teams have impressed me so far; Switzerland’s determination in holding Brazil to a draw in their opening game was to be commended, whilst Sweden again impressed on the counter-attack when smashing Mexico 3-0 to seal their qualification to the second round.

I find it quite difficult to pick a winner here but if forced, I would be tempted to side with Sweden to qualify as the outsider in what I expect to be a tight affair.

There could however possibly be some value playing the overs in the goals markets. Both teams have scored in all three of Switzerland’s matches so far, and Sweden have shown they are a big threat when attacking.

I’m backing Both Teams To Score @ 6/5 with starsports.bet in the hope that this World Cup continues to be a goal fest.

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Colombia v England
FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16
19:00 ITV

It has been the uniting theme of a World Cup that has been enjoyed by all but taking away the red and white glasses and flags, there is the very serious danger of football not coming home in Russia and whatever the outcome Colombia look well overpriced in the Round of 16 tie tonight in Moscow.

Following another big expulsion in the shape of a lacklustre Spanish side on Sunday, one of Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia or England will be in the World Cup final. On both paper and the evidence of the games played so far, it is the most open World Cup in a generation and perhaps we are set to have the biggest shock tournament winner since Euro 2004.

Much has been said about the draw and the benefits of going one way or the other, but England’s first obstacle is their hardest. Colombia were quarter-finalists four years ago who were unlucky not to go further and they return with the same side here.

All eyes have been on James Rodriguez – on or off the pitch – and his presence or absence will be a huge factor. The 2014 golden boot winner was sensational in the 3-0 win against Poland, but played only half an hour against Senegal before he was substituted and apparently is not as badly injured as feared now.

He is the creative focus but Colombia have plenty of weaponry without him in the shape of Quan Quintero and Juan Cuadrado on either side of the pitch and they will be serious threats for Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier to combat. Colombia are also dangerous at set pieces too, just like England – Yerry Mina took advantage of dreadful front post marking to score the winner against Senegal and both he and Radamel Falcao, so reliable for his country, are major targets.

Colombia haven’t conceded in 180 minutes since their opening defeat to Japan, when their one defensive mishap cost them the game, and they have grown into the tournament with dangerous fluency.

That is no reason for England fans to be too downbeat, however. The 2-1 win over Tunisia (a score the should have been far more comprehensive for England) was just the confidence boost needed after many failures at tournament level in the past and 5-1 trashing of Panama allowed a squad with plenty of go forward to showcase their attacking talents.

The 1-0 defeat to Belgium is best forgotten with a totally changed side and tonight will be all about Jesse Lingard and Delle Alli once again pushing on from midfield to occupy defensive patterns and Gareth Southgate will have noted how Alvaro Uribe and Carlos Sanchez were caught in behind and bossed by the Senegalese midfield.

Harry Kane too will be looking to test the excellent Carlos Sanchez with his pace but Radamel Falcao will have his eyes set on occupying all three of England’s centre-backs and running onto any service from Quintero or Cuadrado, a threat that England have looked uncomfortable against in the past, especially against better opposition.

A key note could also be the weakness of David Ospina in general play but also set pieces, where he has been easily bullied, and England will be looking to intimate and target him with direct challenges from the set-piece play and crossing of Kieran Tripper and Kyle Walker.

Not much separates these two teams on paper or on practice as shown above, which is why England (21/20 with starsports.bet) to win in 90 minutes looks very short under the cold light of day. So too, does the 8/15 for them to win the tie. Take Colombia to inflict some heartbreak – you might thank yourself in the morning.

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