James Rodriguez's fitness...

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James Rodriguez's fitness will swing England vs Colombia pendulum


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If football's "coming home" so to speak, England will have to take a big step towards their abode tonight against Colombia.

The Colombians have bounced back brilliantly from their opening group defeat to Japan where an early red card for Carlos Sanchez knocked them off their stride.

But an impressive 3-0 win over Poland followed by a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Senegal has Jose Pekerman's side within another win of reaching a second consecutive World Cup quarter final appearance.

James Rodriguez's fitness will swing England vs Colombia pendulum

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But as they prepare to face England on Tuesday night, the fitness of key playmaker James Rodriguez is an issue for Colombia after the Bayern Munich player limped out of the Senegal game.

BBC South American football expert Tim Vickery believes Rodriguez's fitness will have a major bearing on how England and Colombia fare tonight.

"So much depends on whether James Rodriguez is fit and ready to play," he told Joe on Monday night's Football Show.

"He may play but he may not be fit. He played the first 30 minutes against Senegal but he was an absolute passenger. 

"If he's fit, which I'm inclined to doubt, I make Colombia narrow favourites. Because then they've got a front four - a front four that can punish England's back-three.

"Falcao, if he's high up the pitch and has service, Falcao will find holes in the England back three and pick up rebounds that come from the goalkeeper." 

Vickery also picked out winger Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero as others who can trouble England.

But what if Rodriguez is either not fully fit or absent altogether?

"If James isn't fit, it's far, far easier for England to force Colombia back into their half," he said.

"If you do that, Falcao's isolated and doesn't really offer anything. If you can keep Cuadrado back, then Colombia have these few players that can really hurt you with the ball but plenty of players who can't.

"So keep them back and watch them on the set pieces, because that giant centre back Yerry Mina is a real threat from set pieces. It would be interesting to see the set piece specialists undone from a set piece if Yerry Mina can get a run at a header. 

"But if they can be forced back, England can win the game."

 


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