Who? Senegal - Colombia
Where? Samara Arena, Samara
When? June 28, 16:00 (CET local time)
Senegal (Omri Tancman)
After a long draught of appearances in World Cups, Senegal is arriving to its last game of the group stage knowing that all they need to do is not to lose to Colombia. To do so, Senegal must keep a clean sheet. The task will not be easy. Senegal hasn’t managed to maintain a clean sheet against Poland or Japan and the mission will not be easier against Colombia. The responsibility for this important mission lies very much on the bold shoulders of Kalidou Koulibaly.
Koulibaly, one of the best central defenders in the world, leads the defence of Napoli since 2014 and has been constantly linked to the biggest clubs in the world. Diego Maradona, Napoli’s legend, stated this year that if Koulibaly was white he would be playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona. Koulibaly himself tries not to give too much importance to racial issues. When referring to Maradona’s praises he himself said that "some black players are already at the best clubs in the world and I hope to be part of that one day, too."
Koulibaly’s somewhat independent attitude resonates also to his perspective towards Senegal’s decisive match against Colombia. According to Koulibaly the most important thing is that they are totally independent. According to the strong commanding Centre Back “when Senegal depends only on itself it is very good.” In a way, this phrase represents a wider state of mind of current Senegalese football. Koulibaly’s responsibility is to rise to the occasion and to make sure the game against Colombia can be a demonstration of independence.
Colombia (Idan Seggev)
With the back against the wall, Colombia managed to achieve a wonderful 3-0 victory over Poland which keeps their chance to qualify alive. It was a completely different team who controlled the match since the kick off and took advantage their supremacy on the field in order to score three beautiful goals in front of 42,800 crazy fans. The most exciting moment, of course, was to see El Tigre Falcao fulfill his dream completely by scoring a goal in the World Cup.
Despite all the joy, Colombia still achieved nothing until now. Their last match of the group stage will be against Senegal, which proved already that they can be very dangerous, even though their made a draw against Japan. The good news is that Colombia depends on itself and with a win they will qualify for sure to the next round. There is a possibility that even a draw can be enough but only if Poland, which is already been eliminated, will beat Japan.
Defensive midfielder, Carlos Sanchez, will return to the starting lineup instead of Barrios while Mateus Uribe, who came in as a sub against Poland and played well, will start next to him. Pekerman won't seem to make changes besides this one, and most probably that we'll see the same lineup. Even though it'll be a clash between two physical teams, Juan Fernando Quintero will continue to receive credit from Pekerman due to his great performances so far. The Colombian fans are on their way to Samara to support their national team and make them feel like they play in Barranquilla in their most important match since the quarter final against Brazil four years ago. With the current atmosphere and form, I won't gamble against them.