England’s quest to lift the World Cup trophy for the first time since 1966 continues on Sunday as they meet Senegal in a tricky last-16 tie at 7.00 pm.
‘It’s coming home’ was shouted in anxiety as the Three Lions strolled to a top-place group stage finish at the World Cup for the first time since 2006, leaving the United States, Iran and Wales behind.
Gareth Southgate’s team launched their 2022 World Cup journey with an eye-catching 6-2 demolition of Iran and rounded off their Group B campaign with a 3-0 thumping of Wales.
Although an uninspiring 0-0 draw with the US in between cast doubt on their title credentials, their nine-goal tally already stands as their second-most in any World Cup finals, including the knockout stage.
Standing between England and their bid to go one better than their runners-up finish at the 2020 European Championships last summer will be a Sadio Mane-less Senegal side.
Mane’s absence was heavily felt on day one when the Netherlands took Aliou Cisse’s men down 2-0, yet the Lions of Teranga have since gone from strength to strength.
They first eased past host nation Qatar 2-0 on matchday two before squeezing past Ecuador 2-1, courtesy of Kalidou Koulibaly’s first international goal, to set up this mouth-watering knockout contest.
England’s scintillating romping of Wales was a landmark occasion for the Three Lions as they smashed a 100-goal milestone in the World Cup finals at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium last time out.
That has further elevated expectations within a large English fanbase in Qatar that will hope to see their country maintain a decent record in the World Cup round-of-16 ties (W5, L2).
Having lost none of their seven previous World Cup encounters against African teams (W4, D3), England will be confident of making a significant step towards ending their infamously long 56-year wait for a major international trophy.
Cisse, who captained Senegal to their best-ever World Cup run to the quarter-finals in 2002, has guided his nation into the tournament’s knockout phase in a fitting way following a heartbreaking 2018 elimination.
However, they will have to defy history at Al Bayt Stadium, as African countries have been on the losing side in eight of their nine World Cup knockout ties against their European counterparts.
Despite losing to the Netherlands in their curtain-raising Group A outing, the Lions of Teranga still boast a positive all-time record against European nations at the World Cup (W3, D1, L2), so there’s hope.
England vs Senegal Head-to-Head
While they’ve never met Senegal before, England have a rich history of facing African nations. The Three Lions have racked up 14 wins and six draws across their 20 previous meetings with teams from the CAF region.
England vs Senegal Potential Line-ups
England (4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham; Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane.
Senegal (4-3-3): Edouard Mendy; Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Ismael Jakobs; Namplays Mendy, Pathe Ciss, Idrissa Gueye; Famara Diedhiou, Boulaye Dia, Ismaila Sarr.
England vs Senegal Prediction
Much of England’s hopes of going past Senegal will rest upon Southgate’s backline, with five of the Three Lions’ last six wins in the World Cup knockout stage yielding a clean sheet.
After registering back-to-back shut-outs against the US and Wales, this seems to be a realistic prospect, even though the Lions of Teranga have netted 2+ goals in consecutive matches in the build-up to this fixture.
If the Qatar showpiece has taught us anything, upsets could be around any corner, but Southgate’s men should find their way past Senegal.
England 1-0 Senegal
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