England survived the preliminary round without any major problems compared to other title contenders. “We have come through the tournament well so far. We knew that there were various hurdles ahead of us. We’ve cleared all the hurdles so far,” said national coach Southgate. A sovereign group victory, seven points and 9:2 goals is the positive interim conclusion of the “Three Lions”.
Round of 16 opponents Senegal should only be a stopover on the way to the final on December 18th. England have been unbeaten in 20 duels with African teams, but they still have the necessary respect for Senegal. “I think it’s the toughest test so far. They have really good individual players, ”said Declan Rice, who will probably again form defensive midfield together with rising star Jude Bellingham.
FIFA World Cup 2022, Round of 16
Starts at 8 p.m., live on ORF1:
England – Senegal
Al-Khor, Al Bayt Stadium, SR Barton (SAL)
England: Pickford – Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw – Bellingham, Rice – Saka, Mount, Rashford – Kane
Senegal: E. Mendy – Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Jacobs – P. Gueye, N. Mendy, Diatta – Ndiaye, Dia, I. Sarr
Southgate’s toughest task right now is managing his luxury on offense. Captain Kane is set despite the goalless start, five players are probably fighting for the other three starting XI places. The team boss is well known for trusting his core staff, which would speak in favor of Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka, although Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden have been influential lately with strong performances.
Senegal “calm and confident”
After 20 years, Senegal hopes to reach the World Cup quarter-finals again. At that time, Aliou Cisse was captain of the “Lions of Teranga”, today he is the head coach. Before the duel with England, however, Cisse missed some of his team’s training sessions. “He’s been sick for two days. But he’ll be on the bench at kick-off, that’s for sure,” said co-coach Regis Bogaert, who also represented Cisse at the press conference.
The African champions are “calm, self-confident and focused” in the encounter with the “Three Lions”, said Bogaert. “Anyone can beat anyone, Senegal can beat England.” The Senegalese should have the necessary self-confidence thanks to their convincing performances in the group stage. After the unfortunate defeat against the Netherlands (0:2), there were victories against hosts Qatar (3:1) and Ecuador (2:1). The only drawback: there was often a lack of efficiency on the offensive, and the injured superstar Sadio Mane is sorely missed.
In the duel with the English, Senegal is a blatant outsider. This role is not inconvenient for the team. “I hope that the English will underestimate us and that we can surprise them,” said reserve goalie Alfred Gomis.