England v Columbia – Head coach Gareth Southgate believes England will be playing their biggest game for a decade when they take on Colombia in the last-16 of World Cup 2018.
Southgate was speaking after seeing his side lose 1-0 to Belgium in Kaliningrad to finish in second place in Group G, with both sides opting to rest a number of key players as both had already ensured progress to the knockout stages.
This was a game we wanted to win, but the knockout game is the biggest game for a decade. And he was clear that the bigger test lies in Moscow on Tuesday, with Colombia having ensured their passage with a 1-0 win over Senegal on Thursday.
Southgate told reporters: “What we have to do is prepare for a thrilling knockout game. Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that.
“This was a game we wanted to win, but the knockout game is the biggest game for a decade, so we needed to make sure our key players were (rested).
“I think the supporters understand what the most important thing is. None of us know if this side of the draw is advantageous or not.
“Everybody is in the frame to play in the next game and it was important these players were given time on the pitch to press their case. Anybody that plays against Colombia will know they are match-ready.”
England and Colombia have met once before at a World Cup finals tournament – that clash came in 1998, when the Three Lions claimed a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Darren Anderton and David Beckham.
LATEST England v Columbia Odds
England are 8/15 to reach the quarter-finals of World Cup 2018 at the expense of Colombia, while they are 3/1 to be beaten in the last eight and are 4/1 to be knocked out of the tournament in the semi-finals.