Senegal v Colombia: James Rodriguez can propel Los Cafeteros into last-16by Jack Kitson / 28 June 2018, 09:50Tweet
Group H reaches a nail-biting conclusion on Thursday when three teams attempt to finish in the top-two spots.
Poland are already out following back-to-back defeats, meaning they now have only pride to play for in their third and final fixture against the current table-toppers Japan (4 points), while the Samara Arena plays host to what promises to be a compelling clash between Senegal (2nd, 4 points) and Colombia (3rd, 3 points).
Senegal know that a draw, 11/4, would be enough to venture into the next round, but boss Aliou Cisse is determined for The Teranga Lions to go out and play for the win (18/5).
“Colombia have to beat us to make it to the last 16, but we are perfectly capable of defeating Colombia.
“Our state of mind hasn’t changed: we play one match at a time. The only option is to get into the last 16, and this means that we have to defeat Colombia.”
Meanwhile Colombia (17/20) need to go for the three points to be assured of a top-2 finish, although they will progress with a draw should Japan lose to rock-bottom Poland.
Colombia registered their first points on the board in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of the now eliminated Poland, which came after their opening loss to Japan. Jose Pekerman’s men looked liked the Colombia of the 2014 World Cup in a very impressive display, during which Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado with the goals, while James Rodriguez sparkled in his first start of the tournament.
Rodriguez, the Golden Boot winner four years ago, has now accumulated six goals and four assists in his last seven World Cup showings for his country, and the 26-year-old can be backed at 2/1 (Paddy Power) to get among the goals on Thursday and 7/2 to win the man of the match award for the second successive game.
Colombia’s all-time goalscorer, Radamel Falcao, now has 30 goals for his country and the Monaco man will be gunning to bag his second successive World Cup goal (11/10).
Jose Pekerman, who led Colombia to the quarter-finals four years ago, says his side need to bring their A game in order to topple Senegal:
“We need to play at an extraordinary level to beat a tough team.
“Mentally, we’re in a good place, but we need to continue to improve, because we are ambitious, and we hope to continue in this World Cup.”
If the only former clash between the teams was anything to go by then we could be set for a cracker. The friendly match saw Colombia take a 2-0 lead, only for Senegal to fight back to draw 2-2 back four years ago. Another 2-2 draw can be backed at 16/1, with over 2.5 goals tempting at 4/5, while both teams to score is available at 10/11.
However, it’s a 2-1 win for Colombia which catches the eye at 8/1 (Betfair), as Pekerman’s men look to win their fifth match from their last six group stage games.
Prediction: Senegal 1-2 Colombia