Colombia v England: We can win this but it will not be easy

Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao has a point to prove
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Cautious optimism probably sums up the mood among England fans, as Gareth Southgate's men prepare to face Colombia in Moscow this evening, as Max Liu reports...

"In his guide to multi-bets on the match, James Pacheco points out: 'Colombia aren't exactly goal-shy, having scored five in three games and scoring in each of their three games.'"

The moment of truth is here. England's date with destiny is upon us. Now we will really find out what Gareth Southgate's young Three Lions are made of. England have not, in case you need reminding, one a knockout match at the World Cup since 2006.

Are things really different this time? Or will England fans once again be left with that bereft "I can't believe we're out" feeling?

Just over seven hours from now, we will have the answers. But in the meantime, as the pre-match excitement and nerves reach fever pitch, I've been having a butcher's at the odds and expert views on Betfair to try to get a sense of the mood.

Colombia will be no pushovers

Steve Rawlings provides a refreshingly sober assessment of England's chances against Colombia, warning that Los Cafeteros have enough nous and ability to frustrate Southgate's men. And before we go any further - no, it's not unpatriotic to express a bit of pessimism where England are concerned, especially when you're picking bets. It's just sensible.

England, Steve thinks, are too short at [2.22] to win inside 90 minutes. At the same time, England are unbeaten in their five previous meetings with Colombia (including the 2-0 win at France '98). He prefers the draw [3.2]. Steve points out that, since 1966, half of England's knockout matches have gone to extra-time.

Stats indicate Kane will keep on scoring

Harry Kane is the World Cup top scorer, with five goals, even though he's only played two matches. In Colombia, he faces a defence that hasn't conceded since going down to ten men in their opening defeat against Japan.

So should we back Kane to score? According to Infogol: "The Tottenham forward will be by far the most potent attacking threat on the pitch on Tuesday, having averaged 1.49xG per 90 so far this tournament." They think 3/1 on Kane opening the scoring on Sportsbook is a sound bet.

Falcao has a point to prove to England fans

All the talk in the build-up is about James Rodriguez's fitness, but it is Radamel Falcao who will be desperate to prove a point to England fans tonight. He was ineffective for Manchester United, anonymous for Chelsea, but in the past year or so, he's been rediscovering the kind of form for Monaco that once made him one of the world's most fearsome forwards.

If Falcao does find the net - and he's 13/2 to open the scoring - it wouldn't be the first time a Premier League flop has hurt England at a tournament; in the last match, ex-Manchester United player Adnan Januzaj scored the winner for Belgium and, back in 2004, Helder Postiga, who had struggled at Tottenham, scored a crucial goal against England in the quarter-finals.

England to keep their first clean sheet or both teams to score?

In his guide to multi-bets on the match, James Pacheco points out: "Colombia aren't exactly goal-shy, having scored five in three games and scoring in each of their three games."

At the same time, England are yet to keep a clean sheet, even conceding against Tunisia and Panama. Questions have been asked about goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after Januzaj's goal for Belgium last time out. Colombia will see the young England stopper as a weakness, so he needs to answer his critics with a commanding performance. At [2.28], though, both teams to score looks a bet.

Rio reckons England will have too much for Colombia

While we all know the emotions involved in watching England at the World Cup, Rio Ferdinand actually knows what it's like to play in - and win, twice - a knockout tie at the Finals. And the good news is that Rio believes England's energy will see them through.

Rio wants to see high-octane pressing from England early on. If the players do that, he believes they will be on their way into the last eight. Come on England!

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