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Colombia’s resounding win over Poland on Sunday will give them confidence of sneaking into the knockouts

BOTH of these countries are vying with Japan to qualify from Group F and will go through if they draw and the leaders lose to Poland.

But a Japanese victory means Colombia, third in the table, would have to win to snatch a last 16 place from second-placed Senegal.

The precarity of the situation should make for an anxious and ultimately exciting afternoon in Samara as neither team will be able to rest on their laurels, especially if news filters through from Volgograd that the Poles are losing again.

The nation expects

BOTH nations will be expecting their teams to get the job done, even though their fates do not lie in their own hands.

Senegal have surpassed expectations with a win and draw from their opening two matches.

Yet their could be left to Keisuke Honda’s late leveller for Japan in Sunday’s 2-2 draw in Ekaterinburg.

Especially as Colombia’s emphatic 3-0 win over Poland a couple of hours later means the South Americans will come into this clash full of swagger.

Key battles/Star men

MOUSSA WAGUE will have one of the hardest jobs in the Senegal because he will be charged with keeping tabs on Jean Cuadrado. Wague usually plays at right back for KAS Eupen in Belgium but has been playing on the opposite flank for his country.

Weakest links

SALIF SANE has been at the heart of the Senegal defence, despite being a midfielder by trade. And at times he has looked like a fish out of water.

Likely line-ups and team talks

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse knows a point would be good enough to reach the last 16 but they cannot afford to play for the draw.

Senegal 4-3-3: K N’Diaye; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Wague; Badou, A N’Diaye, Gueye; Mane, Niang, Sarr.

Jose Pekerman will surely instruct his players to carry on where they left off from their 3-0 win over Colombia in a bid to seal their passage to the next phase.

Colombia 4-2-3-1: Ospina; Mojica, D Sanchez, Yerry Mina, Arias; Barrios, Agular; Rodriguez, Quintero, Cuadrado; Falcao.

Best bet

With Senegal and Colombia averaging two goals a game so far, why not grab Betway’s offer of a 3-2 Colombia win with Rodriguez as first goalscorer at 80/1.

Prem star in the making:

COLOMBIA’S James Rodriguez has played in La Liga and the Bundesliga – so the Premier League seems his logical next step. And there would be no shortage of takers for the 2014 Golden Boot winner.

The stat that matters:

COLOMBIA’S four goals in their two matches at Russia 2018 have come from just seven shots on target.

Opta Stats 

Senegal and Colombia have faced each other just once before, in a friendly in May 2014, with Colombia taking a 2-0 lead into half-time, only to concede two goals in the second half.

Senegal have faced South American opponents just once before in the World Cup, drawing 3-3 in the final group stage game of 2002 against Uruguay.

Colombia’s first World Cup match against African opposition came in 1990, losing 2-1 in extra-time to Cameroon – since then, they’ve won both such meetings, in 1998 against Tunisia and 2014 against Ivory Coast.

James Rodriguez has been involved in 10 goals in seven World Cup appearances for Colombia (6 goals, 4 assists).

Colombia registered their joint-biggest World Cup win in their 3-0 victory over Poland, also winning by three-goal margins against Greece (3-0) and Japan (4-1) in 2014.

Moussa Wagué became the first African teenager to score a World Cup goal in Senegal’s 2-2 draw with Japan (19y 263d).

James Rodriguez has been involved in 10 of Colombia’s last 14 World Cup goals, with six goals and four assists.

Sadio Mané found the net against Japan, the 15th different match he’d scored in for Senegal – they are yet to lose any of those (W9 D6).

Colombia have scored four goals from seven shots on target at the 2018 World Cup, scoring three goals from four shots on target in their 3-0 win over Poland.

Since keeping a clean sheet against France in their first ever World Cup match in 2002, Senegal haven’t recorded a shutout in any of their last six, conceding three goals from just seven shots on target faced at this year’s tournament.

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