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'We're not the favourites, we're playing against the country that invented football'

Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez believes “small details” will determine the outcome of their clash with England.

Carlos Sanchez celebrates after Colombia's win over Senegal.
Carlos Sanchez celebrates after Colombia's win over Senegal.
Image: Martin Meissner

COLOMBIA DEFENDER CARLOS Sanchez has insisted the South American side are not favourites against England, “the country that invented football”, when they meet in the World Cup last-16 on Tuesday.

England coach Gareth Southgate rested eight first-choice players in the last group match against Belgium, which they lost 1-0, setting up a meeting with the South Americans rather than the lower-ranked Japan.

The result also meant England avoided the tougher top half of the draw, which features heavyweights including Brazil and France.

The winner of the match between England and Colombia in Moscow will play whoever comes out on top in the clash between Switzerland and Sweden — but first England have to overcome the quarter-finalists from the last World Cup.

“We’re not the favourites, we’re playing against the country that invented football,” said 32-year-old Espanyol midfielder Sanchez.

“But we have our own weapons and once the game starts the only thing that matters is on the pitch. Matches like this are won by small details. Colombia fear no one now.”

The Colombia camp are crossing their fingers over the fitness of James Rodriguez, the top-scorer at the World Cup four years ago, who limped off in their last group match against Senegal with what appeared to be a recurrence of a groin injury. Sanchez gave no update on his readiness for the match.

“James is a great player but I am sure that if he doesn’t play there will be other players who can make a difference,” he said. “Each one of us here is prepared and ready to play and whoever plays will do their best.”

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England striker Harry Kane was rested in the Belgium defeat but is still top of the goalscoring charts in Russia, with five goals in two matches. However, Sanchez said it would be foolish for Colombia to focus too much on the Tottenham man.

“Harry Kane is an emblematic player who has demonstrated his quality at this World Cup but we are not only facing him, we’re playing against the whole England team, who have a lot of key players,” said Sanchez, who knows English football well, having spent two seasons with Aston Villa from 2014 to 2016.

© – AFP, 2018

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