Score: England 1 Colombia 1 (England 3-2 In Pens)
4 years ago in Brazil Columbia captivated the world Against All Odds making what seemed like a unlikely run in the World Cup. They made the quarterfinals for the first time behind the brilliance of at the time relatively unknown star James Rodriguez who was the tournaments best player having scored Six goals winning the Golden Boot. This Columbia team put the world on notice it was a magical campaign four years ago. Going into this world cup Columbia were looking to get back to the quarterfinals 4 years have passed but Columbia team got stronger James Rodriguez got better and some of the new additions into this side showed the quality so they certainly have. England on the other hand were coming off their worst World Cup 4 years ago and didn’t follow that up with anything great as they were very poor in the Euros two years ago. Under New Management under new control with New Blood England came into this tournament looking to make progress on what they previously done to get back to playing the way they know they are capable of. These two teams met under a Russian night in knockout stage football a Columbia team trying to show that they have the quality to get back to the quarterfinals while England wanted a crack at trying to make legitimate progress in the unlikely battle of bringing England its first World Cup since 1966. It was a creative Columbia missing their best player against what most people would refer to as an overconfident England team with some serious Talent. It was a feisty and intense game England took the lead in the second half and held onto that lead for the majority of the game but Columbia scored at the brink of death to send the game into extra-time. It ended up going down to penalties and unlike England past of aiming anywhere but the goal England got through winning their first penalty shootouts in World Cup history to knock out a creative and strong Columbia team that were left heartbroken.
It is possible to make the argument that we have two different teams who had both the easiest and toughest Road to The Knockout stage. I believe Columbia ended up in the group of death and England had a cakewalk into the round of 16 in terms of the teams that were in the group and the players that are in the group one was views extremely difficult and other quite simple. I’m not taking anything away from England and how they got here the pathway to get to this match took more efforts from one end than the other. Columbia ended up and what I believe to be the most difficult group during the group stage this was a group that featured four teams that could have legitimate cases for advancing there was no clear favorite but also was no team that was viewed as an easy win all four teams in this group had equal chances to come out of it was the true group of death. Columbia were grouped with Senegal featuring Liverpool Superstar sadio Mane. Poland that featured Robert Lewandowski and a Japan team that featured Shinji Kagawa and obviously Columbia featuring James Rodriguez. This was extremely tough to call and Columbia had to fight for every point they received. James Rodriguez sadly was unable to play The Opening match due to injury and to make things worse they were down to 10 men in the opening five minutes after a red card was shown. Japan took advantage of the opportunity play extremely strong and beat Columbia to start the group. In their second group game James Rodriguez was back and Columbia ripped through Poland who looked completely pathetic throughout the World Cup. In their final group game they faced off against Senegal a must-win for both teams as the winner would almost certainly qualify for The Knockout rounds with the loser falling short and having to go home. They beat a very tough Senegal team to confirm their place in The Knockout rounds for the second World Cup in a row. It was a very tough a very physically draining group sadly James Rodriguez got hurt in the last group game meaning he would miss the game against England. It was incredibly challenging group that was not determined until the last game. England on the other hand had a bit of an easier road to qualifying for The Knockout stage. England opened up their World Cup to Tunisia it was a tougher match than it should have been England were very lucky to get their first goal after seeing probably the save of the World Cup only to lead to a tapping by Harry Kane Tunisia eventually equalized and it stayed even until the last minute of the game when Harry Kane scored the winner.However I must say that England should have been granted a few penalties it was a fair result but Tunisia did a really good job on them. In their second game against low-ranked Panama England smash them was Harry Kane scoring one of the most lucky hat-tricks I’ve ever seen. It’s included two penalties and a shot that deflected off of his foot a world-class player but as easy as a hat-trick can possibly get. With the win it confirmed that they would be advancing out of the group stage. They faced off against Belgium in the final game to determine who would win the group Belgium edged out England 1-0 to win the group. England did not play particularly well in a few of those games not counting the one against Panama while Columbia had to fight through adversity and some really tough teams to qualify. This is no shot at England and anyway you can only play who’s in front of you but given the lack of quality in England’s group it wasn’t overly impressive. But either way both of these teams proved they belong to the knockout stage and it’s set up for an exceptional round of 16 match up in the World Cup.
It was a very anticipated match between two teams who had every right to be here. England was looking to try to prove to the world that they are still a European power with a legitimate chance to get to the final. Meanwhile Columbia was going to do everything they could to try to keep the magic going to get back to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Columbia James Rodriguez Columbia’s best player was unable to play the game due to injury this gave England a massive advantage going into this elimination game with Rodriguez Colombia would definitely have been the favorites to win it but without him England on paper where the better team even though this Columbia team as a lot of talent.. It turned out to be an extremely tense game with controversies flying all over the place. The Colombians played very physical made risky tackles they played very dirty there was something about them I don’t know if it was trying to make up for not having their best player but they played they were playing dangerous. I’m not going to sit up here and pretend that England were graceful and didn’t have any controversies of their own many times in this game England over-exaggerated plays on multiple occasions and got a fair amount of the calls in their favor but weren’t nearly as bad as Colombia. This was extremely intense they legitimately were trying to take each other out both teams should be ashamed in the manner of how they conducted themselves I know people will disagree one was worse then the other but this wasn’t a clean game from any matter. However with that being said it was a very entertaining game that has a lot of counter attacks and some really good football at times. Although I think both teams played it safe for far too long at times they weren’t taking it seriously enough too conservative they were just hoping and praying for scoring opportunity. Both teams played very average and as much as I like both teams I find it very hard to believe that either one of these teams could win the World Cup. They were in a fortunate position where they were both on the weaker side of the bracket meaning getting to the final would be a lot easier but as long as Croatia is intact I think on paper getting to the final will always be difficult. Despite both teams not playing rather well England was given a penalty in the second half I watched this penalty on several occasions it still was inconclusive to me whether it was or not it was I think he could of been a penalty but it also could of been a foul. Harry Kane stepped up and buried the penalty scoring his sixth goal of the tournament. It is very hard to score a penalty especially on the stage and Harry Kane is an excellent penalty taker but the matter in which he has gotten his goals in this tournament haven’t required a lot. Harry Kane is arguably the best striker in the world but in this world cup is 6 goals three penalties one tap in one deflected goal and one really good goal. He is one of the best players in his position in the world but I find it really hard to criticize him but to a certain extent things have just fall in his lap. The later it got the more it looks like an England win but on the brink of death Columbia equalized with Yerry Mina header that send the game into extra-time. Over the 30 minutes of extra-time the game was still tied as they headed for the dreaded penalty shootout something England just doesn’t seem to be good at having never Advanced through a penalty shootout. It turned out to be an historic night as England won heading to their first quarter finals since 2006 winning their first penalty shootout in World Cup history. As much as I have criticized England during the World Cup so far under that type of pressure for them to come out on top given the history and given what was going against them it was incredibly impressive. Although I must say it was absolutely heartbreaking to see James Rodriguez crying in the stands after the shootout ended in an England victory. Had he played I think this result could have been a lot different. England will play Sweden in the quarterfinals a game that England will be heavily favored in but I don’t think that is deserved. I think there is no clear favorite England weren’t at their best. I wouldn’t be surprised Sweden somehow managed to get to the semi-final. The quiet confidence that England seem to have especially with their fan base they may not take this game seriously enough I think a lot of people think they already have a place in the semi-final Sweden have a strong team and can pull off the upset but I expect England to go through if they take this match seriously which is unclear if they will but if they do they should get past Sweden. England have to be a lot better going forward but if they’re able to play at their best there’s a chance they could get to the final. Can Harry Kane continue to take this team the Promised Land or England inevitably fall is it Coming Home? we will have to wait and see