Kieran Trippier England
Kieran Trippier England

England take on Senegal in the Round of 16 and there are growing fears that Gareth Southgate’s team could be the next big team to get knocked out.

Germany and Belgium have already exited from the group stages and even though England have done really well in their respective group Senegal could very easily cause an upset. The African champions have picked up their game since Netherlands beat them in their opening tie and if the Three Lions are not careful then it will be curtains for them on Sunday.

John Stones was asked if England are vulnerable before Sunday’s tie and the defender has claimed that Belgium and Germany’s exit has given them even more motivation to go all the way.

He said during the press conference, as quoted by ESPN: “It is always difficult when you see big teams or big players in teams that don’t have the success that you want or don’t live up to the expectation of a nation or where they see themselves.

“We don’t ever want to fall into that category. So I think that’s great motivation for us as a reminder that you never want to take anything for granted or who you are playing against.

“All we can affect is what we are doing, what games we are playing and who we are playing against, giving it our all — I don’t think me speaking on other teams or other generations can help. I don’t want to put more pressure on us as a team.

“I’m a big believer of controlling what we can, that is the game on Sunday, how we approach it, we started that this week. Giving it everything in every game we’ve played it. We sometimes haven’t got the result we wanted. We looked back at that game and thought how well organised they were [and] took that into the next game.”

Will Senegal be able to knock England out of the World Cup?

Senegal have some really impactful players who have the talent to cause an upset. People like Gueye, Sarr, Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy are all top-tier stars who can singlehandedly dismantle England.

England have had a rather easy run through their group stages games but the competition will go up a notch come Sunday. So far, Gareth Southgate has got his tactics spot on but against Senegal, he will need to focus on two major aspects.

Firstly, he will have to get his attacking trio absolutely right because he has an overload of talent in that department. Every forward player has justified their place so far so Southgate will now have to choose his best three.

The likes of Rashford, Foden, Sterling and Bukayo Saka have all impressed during the first three matches while Jack Grealish has also been impactful off the bench. We think this is one of the areas where the game will be won or lost for England. If the manager can get the balance right up front then no matter how good Senegal are in attack, England will score at least one more goal than them.

Secondly, Gareth Southgate will need to make sure that his players put their foot on the peddle from the very first minute. Barring the Iran game, England have taken a lot of time to settle down and find their rhythm and most of their good and synchronized play usually comes in the second half. However, Senegal won’t allow them that luxury on Sunday and since this is a knockout game, England will need to ensure they wrap up the tie within the regulation 90 minutes and spare their players of the additional grind of extra time.