World Cup Big Match Focus: How to back a 9/1 England win against Senegal

Marcus Rashford England
Marcus Rashford will want to add to his goals against Wales

In this week's Big Match Focus, Tom Victor previews England v Senegal as the Three Lions aim to make progress to the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup.

  • England unbeaten against African nations

  • Senegal chasing history

  • Rashford's record shot as he chases Golden Boot

  • Follow our Live Blog each day every day here


  • It wasn't entirely smooth sailing, but England have booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup as group winners.

    At half-time against Wales, it had been 135 minutes without a goal for Gareth Southgate's men after a 6-2 demolition of Iran in their opening game. That fear soon abated, though, with two goals from Marcus Rashford and one from Phil Foden securing top spot ahead of the United States.

    England's opponents in the round of 16 will be Senegal, who finished second behind the Netherlands in their own group. A late defeat against the Oranje was followed by victories over Qatar and Ecuador, and they will go into the knockout stages on a high.

    Unknown territory

    While some of England's group stage opponents were familiar to them, the opposite is true here. England and Senegal have never met in any senior fixture, competitive or otherwise.

    Since making their World Cup debut in 2002, the Lions of Taranga have come up against European opposition six times. Three of those ended in victory, including a memorable win against reigning champions France in the 2002 opener, while there has been one draw (against Denmark in the very next game) and two defeats.

    Interestingly, those results have alternated between wins and failures to win. If the pattern is to continue, it suggests the 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the 2022 opener will be followed by victory at Al Bayt Stadium.

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    England's promising trend

    When European sides meet African opposition at World Cups, the knockout ties tend to go the way of the former. Senegal, however, may take hope from the fact that the only ime this didn't happen - back in 2002 - it involved Henri Camara scoring their winner against Sweden at this very stage.

    England's record against African nations isn't just impressive, though. If Aliou Cissé's team are to progress, they'll need to do something no national side from their continent has managed across 20 games - they'll need to beat an England side unbeaten against African opponents with 14 wins and six draws.

    Seven of those 20 games have come at World Cups, with one - a 3-2 victory over Cameroon in 1986 - in the knockout stages. England's most recent competitive game against an African side was a forgettable goalless draw with Algeria in 2010, while you have to go back to 1998 and a 2-0 win against Tunisia for their last win against a CAF side at the tournament.

    Decisions up front

    Marcus Rashford's double against Wales took him up to three goals at the tournament - a figure which, at the time, made him the joint-highest scorer at the tournament. Still, the Manchester United star is not a lock to start against Senegal, with Raheem Sterling starting on the left and scoring in the opener against Iran.

    If Rashford is to score again, it would make him the first United player to hit four for England at a major tournament. Wayne Rooney was still an Everton player when he managed the same tally at Euro 2004, but moved to Old Trafford immediately after the tournament.

    One man who has yet to score this time around is Harry Kane. The England captain won the Golden Boot in 2018 with six goals, but is still waiting to open his account in Qatar.

    England win, BTTS and Harry Kane anytime scorer @

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    Senegal's World Cup record could offer some hope to the Tottenham striker, though. After keeping a clean sheet on their World Cup debut, they have conceded in each of their last 10 games in the competition - including becoming the only side to concede to hosts Qatar in the group stage this time around.

    England v Senegal prediction

    Senegal have already made history before this game, winning back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time. A third in succession would take them to the quarter-finals but that will be easier said than done.

    England need three more goals to match their record of 12 in a single tournament, set in 2018. They may have to wait to reach that milestone, but will feel confident of getting the job done against a Senegal side shorn of injured star Sadio Mané.

    In Mané's absence, a record five different players have scored for Cissé's team in Qatar. Another goal wouldn't be a huge surprise, but they may fall just short against an England squad with greater depth to come off the bench if they are chasing a result.

    It has been rare for England to cruise in a World Cup knockout game - only once in the last 20 years have the Three Lions won such a fixture by more than one goal. An England win with both teams scoring could be the way to go, maybe even with Kane breaking his duck.

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