It was a good weekend for England without kicking a ball as the Three Lions saw their potential path cleared of Spain, Portugal and Argentina. But there is still the small matter of a last-16 tie against Colombia in Moscow on Tuesday evening for Gareth Southgate’s side to contend with.
Defeat to Belgium in their final Group G match has done England a huge favour, but the work is far from complete; Colombia will present a far sterner test of the Three Lions’ credentials than many might have you believe.
But, if they can overcome the South Americans, England will face one of Switzerland or Sweden in the last eight. The winner will be there on merit with both emerging from tough groups. Both are eminently beatable, however.
But England have emphatically proven beyond all doubt that their opponent’s standing in the game matters little and they can embarrass themselves against minnows given half a chance – that defeat against Iceland two years ago should have been enough to stop the nation getting carried away.
And yet here we are. With all the favourites in the other half of the draw following Spain’s shock penalty defeat to hosts Russia, hope has turned to expectation. This is not ‘Golden Generation’, rather than ‘Fortunate Generation’.
They might never have a better chance to emulate Bobby Moore and the boys of ’66. But it all begins with a last-16 tie against José Pékerman’s Colombia on Tuesday evening (7pm GMT).
Our unique algorithm has predicted the Three Lions side it believes will start the game.
Football Whispers uses data to predict teams’ starting XIs, taking into account injuries, suspensions, and the statistical likelihood of a player being selected. The widget can also show you players’ recent form and stats.