The knock-out stage may not start until Saturday, however, one of these teams is highly likely to progress at the other’s expense.
Senegal goes into this match with a one-point advantage in the current standings but Colombia stormed back to form with a 3-0 win over Poland last Sunday. The Lions of Teranga too gave a good account of themselves on Sunday afternoon and will have plenty of reason to be optimistic about their chances.
With England or Belgium potentially lying in wait for the victor of this game, the match will also be a point of interest for those two nations. But just what can we expect from this match-up which pits South America against Africa?
1 An open game awaits
The final group games at the World Cup have historically presented some non-events due to the dead-rubber ties which arise. With plenty at stake in this game that worry will be well avoided.
Furthermore, both teams play in a way which is conducive to an open game unfolding in Samara.
Senegal plays with a high press which will leave Colombia space to attack during transitions. Equally, it will give Senegal plenty of opportunities when they manage to quickly recycle possession inside the Colombian half.
With Colombia able to hurt teams with quick counter-attacks, they are likely to rely on this tactic for at least part of the match. As such, the game should provide end-to-end football and has every chance of producing plenty of goalmouth action.
2 Africa’s last hope
Reuters/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS
Of the five African teams which made it to Russia, Senegal are the only team who remain with a chance of reaching the knockout rounds.
Tipped by many as the African side most likely to go the furthest in the competition, they will now aim to be the sole representative of their continent in the last 16.
As the only African manager, the only black manager, the youngest manager and, reportedly, the lowest-paid manager at this year’s World Cup Finals, Aliou Cissé has several secondary motivations for his team to beat the odds.
3 Can Colombia gain momentum?
While Senegal are looking to become the first African side to win two group matches since Ghana in 2006, Colombia are aiming to replicate their form of four years ago.
As the dark horses of Brazil 2014, the Tricolors reached the quarter-finals where they were eventually ousted by the host nation. This came despite the fact that they were ranked as the 12th favourites.
This year they are ranked slightly better, 11th favourites priced at 33/1, however, their opening game defeat to Japan had many people writing their chances off.
A healthy and well-deserved win over Poland has patched up their reputation and a second successive victory would install a fear factor back into their image.
4 Sadio Mane’s time to shine
The Liverpool forward had another impressive season in the Premier League, however, Mohamed Salah’s outstanding form pushed Mane’s achievements firmly into the shadows.
His 20 goals from 44 appearances with the Reds last season produced a goal-scoring rate of 0.45, a marginal improvement on the rate achieved during the previous season which saw him widely acclaimed.
While he is by no means the only threat Colombia will need to be wary of, he is a player who has form and ability which could decide the outcome of this game.
5 Carlos Sánchez’s redemption
Following a third-minute red card in the opening fixture against Japan, Colombia’s central midfielder was blamed by many for the defeat which ensued.
With several death threats made to Sánchez through social media during the aftermath, the team dedicated their win over Poland to the 32-year-old as a show of support.
The threats also carried an extra edge given the murder of Andres Escobar, the Colombian defender who scored an own-goal at the 1994 World Cup.
With his suspension served, Sánchez is fully expected to return to the starting lineup for this match.
As a technically proficient defensive midfielder, he may not be a player who will create an impressive highlights reel but he could put in an incredibly influential display which dictates the course of the game.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss all the action from Day 13 of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
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