And with that, I’m off to cheer England to glorious, booking-strewn defeat. Bye!
Pictures just in from Bogota:
And from Dakar:
He’s asked about his team’s struggles to defend set pieces.
Is it normal? When a goal is scored after a set piece, or without one, is it normal? You don’t want to concede goals but set pieces exist. It’s not a question of tactics or spirit or size. We’ve worked a lot on set pieces both from a defensive and an offensive point of view. We have conceded from a set piece in this match again.
And he’s asked about his team’s focus on Colombia’s right flank:
We knew their right wing was very dangerous. We didn’t want to give any space to Cuadrado and we were able to close that wing. Maybe Sabaly and Balde were not as fresh in the second half, it may have happened. But I look at the match and I think Senegal should have qualified for the next round. We deserved it.
He’s asked about the World Cup and the organisation:
Magnificent. I’ve played in a World Cup in Japan, now I’ve had a World Cup in Russia as a coach. I would say the organisation is superb, the people are extraordinary. I’d like to thank our team hotel. The people were very nice. I’d like to thank them very warmly and I think it’s great publicity for this nation.
More from Aliou Cissé:
Had we scored in the first half nobody would have said anything. Second half, the team created opportunities. We weren’t able to convert but that’s too bad. I found a team which was very focused and wanted to go ahead, but we have seen major teams eliminated in the first round. We still have to work but I’m sure we will do great things in the future.
Aliou Cissé speaks:
We were aware of the regulations but Senegalese players are highly committed. It is difficult to play well if you’re not highly committed. I can’t ask my players to go on the pitch to avoid yellow cards. You have to be in contact with other players when you play football. This is how we play. We need this, and it is a shame that it worked against us.”
Though according to Fifa’s statistics Senegal have only attemped 17 tackles, fewest of all teams to have played three matches, while Japan are in 16th place with 31. How they managed to turn 17 tackles into six yellow cards I don’t know.
(Though apparently England only attempted four tackles in their first two matches combined, which even against limited opponents seems an incredibly low total. Belgium have attempted five)
Japan are worthy fair play champions, though.
You’ve got to admire Akira Nishino, though. He dropped six players including most of his best ones and then neutralised the latter stages, accepting a 1-0 defeat, when a point for Senegal would have knocked Japan out. That was some high stakes gambling.
You may now reward the players with marks out of 10:
“Win the group tonight and we avoid Colombia in the next round,” writes Matt Kelcher. “They have been one of the more impressive teams in the tournament so far. Surely far more important than some hypothetical quarter- or semi-final down the line?” They weren’t wildly impressive here, mind, and it looks like James Rodriguez won’t be fully fit, and potentially not available at all. If I were in charge, I’d have made sure the team received one extra booking against Panama to go into this game dead level. But then I want lots. Lots of lots.
The BBC are reporting that England will make eight changes for this evening’s game.
So now all the speculation is over. England and Belgium know precisely where they stand:
Finish first: Japan → Brazil/Mexico → Uruguay/Portugal/France/Argentina
Finish second: Colombia → Sweden/Switzerland → Spain/Russia/Croatia/Denmark
And here’s the group table:
Here’s a match report:
There will be no African teams in the round of 16. It sounds like the final 10 minutes of the Poland v Japan game were an absurd display of mutually-convenient (though not without risk) time-wasting.
Final score: Senegal 0-1 Colombia
90+5 mins: It‘s all over! Colombia are through as group winners, and Senegal are out!
90+4 mins: Poland have beaten Japan 1-0. Senegal have one minute to score a goal and seal their place.
90+2 mins: Carlos Sanchez has a shot from 50 yards, which misses by about 30 yards. “The yellow card tally tie-break is really unreasonable,” writes Patrick Sullivan. “With it, Shaqiri’s shirt-pull after a great goal could arguably have knocked the Swiss out. Given that yellows are handed out in an inconsistent manner across matches, this is the worst of policies. Way to go, Fifa!” I agree. Use shots on target, or decibels of player anthem singing, or something better instead.
90+1 mins: Into stoppage time, of which there will be four minutes or thereabouts. They’ve played excellently in almost all respects today, but haven’t really created anything. Which, to be fair, is quite a major respect.
89 mins: Colombia are taking off Falcao. The added bonus here is that he has to walk slowly to Carlos Sanchez in order to slowly transfer the captain’s armband before slowly leaving the field. Borja is on.
86 mins: No team has ever been eliminated from the World Cup because of their disciplinary record. If this group had finished like this in 2014 lots would have been drawn.
86 mins: A final change for Senegal. Niang is off, and Sakho is on.
85 mins: The ball bounces inside Colombia’s area. Mina wins the header, goes over Mane, and wins a slightly generous free-kick.
83 mins: Colombia make a change, Uribe strolling slowly off and Lerma coming on.
82 mins: These last 10 minutes or so are perfectly set up for the neutral. A goal for Japan, Poland or Senegal would transform the table. Senegal find Mane in the area, but he’s just offside.
81 mins: Sarr then flies down the right flank in a display of wild pace, but his cross is cleared.
80 mins: Chance for Senegal! Mane’s cross picks out Sarr, who volleys wildly high! His team then makes another change, as Konate replaces Keita Balde.
79 mins: Senegal, as it stands, are going out because of two bookings earned in stoppage time of one match.
78 mins: Senegal have a corner, which is diverted by Mina to Ospina, who makes the save and stays down, clutching his face, for no good reason.
77 mins: Save! Niang, wide to the right of goal, slams in a hard, high shot and Ospina pushes it away!
76 mins: Senegal had been down to 10 men after Sabaly limped off, so they had no choice but to make the substitution when they did, but it probably didn’t help their concentration.
75 mins: As it stands, Colombia win the group, Japan are second, and Senegal are out!
GOAL! Senegal 0-1 Colombia (Mina, 74 mins)
They say never make a substitution before you defend a set piece, and this is why! The corner comes in, and Mina rises unmarked to head down and in!
74 mins: Senegal make a substitution, the injured Sabaly going off and Wague coming on.
71 mins: For now, though, one goal to either side here and the other team goes home. No goals for either side here and they both go through. No goals here and one for Japan and Colombia go out.
70 mins: Colombia cross from the right, and Sane totally mishits his clearance and instead sends the ball towards his own goal. Quite slowly.
69 mins: Japan have had a player booked! So if (bear with me here) Colombia score once and Japan have two more players booked, we could still have a drawing of lots!
67 mins: Colombia play the ball into the penalty area for Muriel to run onto, but N’Diaye hares from his goal, gets there first, boots the ball away and then absolutely clatters Muriel. No penalty, as he went for the ball and won it clearly, but quite painful.
66 mins: Chance for Falcao! The corner curls straight to the striker, who rises unmarked, misses it with his head and shoulders it harmlessly wide.
65 mins: Colombia win a free kick wide on the right, which pings about the penalty area for a while before falling for Muriel, whose low shot deflects wide off a defender.
64 mins: Mane slips as he takes the free-kick. which therefore loops harmlessly wide.
62 mins: Mane runs forward from midfield, snubs an opportunity to pass to a team-mate in the area, and is pushed from behind by Carlos Sanchez. Senegal have a tasty free-kick. “I really like Senegal. They are one of the few teams in the competition who appear to have a coherent plan,” writes Niall Mullen. “I reckon if they had a top class striker they could do some serious damage at this World Cup (is it too late for Lewandowski to switch?). As it is they might go out at the group stage.”
60 mins: A roar ripples around the ground, after news filters through of a goal in the other game: Poland have taken the lead against Japan, who drop to third in the as-it-stands table!
56 mins: Senegal break well, but Sarr can’t summon a decent cross once he gets to the byline. The game is stretching, and promising gaps are appearing. Surely there’s a goal or two to be had here?
54 mins: Even more ridiculous theatrics. Sarr is perhaps tripped by Carlos Sanchez, though it looks to me like he manufactured the contact. Either way, he flings himself down and rolls around enthusiastically. The referee doesn’t buy this one.
53 mins: James Rodriguez has also come out for the second half, and is now on the bench. We can surmise that his injury is minor, but if they go through we’ll find out more in due course.
51 mins: Niang and Mina go for the same ball. Mina heads it, and gets a tap on the hip from Niang’s boot. There’s almost no contact, and Mina’s reaction is totally over the top, earns Niang a booking, means he will be suspended for their next game if there is one, and makes the chances of a thrilling post-match drawing of lots even more unlikely. Booooo!
48 mins: There have been no goals in the other game and also no bookings. If the scores remain the same Senegal need three Japanese players to be booked, while they themselves don’t bother the referee, in order to go top.
Apparently Colombia haven’t attempted a cross yet. It’s been a poor display from them and the departure of James Rodriguez is a particular blow, not only because they miss his creativity but because teams that lose their star player always seem to wobble. On the plus side, they are somehow still level. The players are back out, and they’re the same ones that went in.
Except for one offside header, Colombia have not touched the ball inside Senegal’s penalty area.
Half time: Senegal 0-0 Colombia
45+4 mins: That’s all for now. Senegal have spent the entire game so far on the verge of creating a brilliant chance, without ever quite creating a brilliant chance.
45+2 mins: The teams appear to have called a truce as the first half comes towards its conclusion.
45+1 mins: There will be about three minutes of first-half stoppage time.
45 mins: Mojica is booked for cynically curtailing a Senegal attack by bringing Sarr down.
42 mins: Falcao has the ball on the edge of Senegal’s penalty area, but can’t quite bring it under control and as it rolls away from him he deliberately brings down Gassama from behind. A free kick is given, but nothing more.
39 mins: Senegal attack again, but run the ball out of play. While the attack is in progress Mojica goes down. It initially looks bad, as there’s nobody near him when he does so, but a few paces earlier he was caught in the left knee by a Senegal player who ran across him.
38 mins: It’s tapped to Sane, who skews his shot way wide and way high.
35 mins: Carlos Sanchez brings Mane down with a little shove, 30 yards from goal and pretty much dead central. Probably a bit too far out for a shot.
34 mins: Senegal have been excellent so far, and Colombia ineffective. But N’Diaye is the only goalkeeper to have been meaningfully tested, from that Quintero free kick.
32 mins: James only attempted 10 passes, eight of them successful. He has been far from influential, and presumably injured. He goes straight down the tunnel.
30 mins: This is a big moment. That Colombia substitution is about to happen, and it’s Muriel coming on, and James Rodriguez going off, and looking quite upset about it.
28 mins: Sarr now cuts into the box from the right, before also shooting straight at Ospina.
27 mins: Sanchez excellently tackles Mane again, and when the ball rebounds to Keita he decides not to cross to an unmarked team-mate and instead shoots straight at Ospina.
27 mins: “I have finally worked out why I love watching Colombia,” writes Ruth Purdue. “Every time they have the ball they look to pass forward. They hardly sideways pass at all. If it can go forward it does. Quintero’s through balls are high risk at times or low percentage of coming off, but he keeps doing it. Exciting to watch.” I’ve just checked the stats, and as it stands Colombia are 21st of the 32 nations on number of backwards passes, with most of their final group game to go.
25 mins: And a chance! Quintero’s delivery from the set piece is excellent, and Falcao meets it first but heads over! And is also offside!
24 mins: Gueye stands on Quintero’s toe, apparently without malice, as he runs past him, and the Colombian squeals, dives and rolls around a lot. Free kick.
22 mins: Senegal have dominated the first quarter of the match, and apparently Colombia are now preparing a substitution.
21 mins: Senegal have another free-kick on the left. After Keita Balde sent the last one straight to Ospina, Niang takes this one instead. And he sends it straight to Ospina.
Not a penalty after all
18 mins: Colombia got out of jail there. They were sliced open down the left, and a fine final pass inside to Mane would have led to a shot on goal but for a disappointing first touch and an outstanding tackle.
Penalty to Senegal!
17 mins: The referee has pointed to the spot after Davinson Sanchez went to ground to tackle Mane. It looked like a good tackle on first viewing.
15 mins: Senegal roar to the edge of Colombia’s area, then misplace a pass to Keita. “I truly like both these teams and we’ll miss one of them,” writes Hubert O’Hearn, before turning his attention to Colombia. “From their yellow and gold, their madly dressed fans, the sheer joy of their football, it’s rather like watching a field of wildflowers playing in a summer wind.” Very poetic. Very mobile wildflowers. A field of hyperspeed triffids.
12 mins: Saved! Quintero curls it towards the goalkeeper’s side of goal, and it would have been an easy save had the ball not bounced awkwardly just in front of N’Diaye, who as a result had to shovel it away for a corner.
11 mins: The ball is chipped to Falcao, who takes it on his chest and, as he waits for the ball to drop, is violently sandwiched between Sabaly and Koulibaly. Both seemed much too hasty to get in a challenge, with the ball still in the air and the goal not under threat. It is now, though, from the free-kick.
9 mins: Senegal win a free kick on the left, and take an age to get themselve ready for it. Whereupon Keita Balde scoops it straight into the arms of Ospina.
7 mins: A high-tempo opening, with little space for artistry as yet. “I get the praise for Colombia’s fans and heart,” writes Patrick Sullivan. “But Senegal’s giving them a run for their enthusiasm money, dancing in the stands and generally oozing love and fun.” Yes, Senegal aren’t far behind. If only they wore yellow. It’s remarkable how green shirts, rarely seen outside Plymouth in the English Football League, are all over the World Cup.
3 mins: Ospina kicks the ball long, and Balde and Konate both go for it, one steamrollering the other, both going down, and the ball bouncing through untouched.
1 min: They’re off! Senegal get the game started, and 15 seconds later they have the game’s first shot, Niang scooping the ball way over the bar from 20 yards.
The ball is in the centre circle, and we’re ready to go. Hold on to your hats!
There is a woman with multicoloured hair on the pitch, and nobody seems sure what she’s doing there. She’s currently overseeing the coin toss.
I find it very hard not to absolutely love Colombia’s football team. Higuita, Valderrama, the colour yellow in the summertime, the anthem, the fans who go totally over-the-top with their fancy dress not to get on TV but apparently out of a pure love of absurdity and flamboyance. They’re everything you could ask for in a World Cup team.
The players are in the tunnel, giving you just enough time before kick-off to cast your eyes over this new video about the political history of the World Cup:
“Neither Belgium nor England should relish playing either Senegal or Colombia,” says Kari Tulinius. “Can you imagine Yannick Carrasco dealing with Sadio Mané with any confidence? Or John Stones keeping Radamel Falcao in his pocket? These teams both feature very competent attacking units, and solid defences.” Japan would surely be the pick of the possible opponents for both England and Belgium, but really England could beat or lose to anyone.
Phil Neville on the BBC is asked who England would rather play in the round of 16. “I think Gareth won’t give a … I think Gareth won’t mind,” he says, just catching himself in time.
Interesting team news from the other game, where Japan have made six changes and have left out Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui, with all their goalscorers in the tournament so far starting on the bench. Barry Glendenning has the latest on that one:
Here’s some pre-match reading about a highlight of Colombia’s World Cup history:
“Do you think James will have impact this match?” asks PS. “I felt he made a good showing last match.” I thought he had an excellent game against Poland, with one great assist and one even better than great assist, and am thus very optimistic.
True fact: over their first two games Colombia have attempted precisely 200 more passes than Senegal, with 866 to a devilish 666.
The referee, Milorad Mazic, is a director of a meat company. He likes sport (you don’t say) and reading. He’ll presumably enjoy putting a few names in his book this afternoon.
Here are the teams in plain text format for those who can’t see embedded tweets:
Senegal: Khadim N’Diaye, Gassama, Sane, Koulibaly, Sabaly, Sarr, Kouyate, Gueye, Mane, Balde, Niang. Subs: Diallo, Mbengue, Mbodji, Sow, Diouf, N’Doye, Alfred N’Diaye, Konate, Sakho, Ndiaye, Wague, Gomis.
Colombia: Ospina, Arias, Davinson Sanchez, Mina, Mojica, Uribe, Carlos Sanchez, Cuadrado, Quintero, Rodriguez, Falcao. Subs: Vargas, Zapata, Murillo, Barrios, Bacca, Muriel, Lerma, Diaz, Borja, Izquierdo, Cuadrado.
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia).
Carlos Sanchez returns for Colombia alongside Mateus Uribe as coach Jose Pekerman changes up his midfield for his side*s decisive Group H encounter with Senegal in Samara on Thursday.
Sanchez, who was shown a red card in the opening minutes of Colombia’s opener against Japan, returns from suspension and replaces Wilmar Barrios. Uribe comes in for the injured Abel Aguilar in the only two changes from Colombia’s 3-0 win against Poland.
Senegal boss Aliou Cisse has recalled captain Cheikhou Kouyate to the midfield in place of Alfred N’Diaye, whilst Keita Balde and Lamine Gassama are also called up in three changes to the team who drew 2-2 with Japan.
Sadio Mane starts as part of an attacking three while central defensive pairing Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane will be looking to stop Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.
Colombia know a win in Samara will see them progress to the last 16. A draw will be enough to take Senegal into the knockout stages.
The teams are in:
Colombia are in a false position in Group H, their qualification for the knock-out stages delayed, and potentially derailed, by a third-minute red card in their opening game. They still have the best goal difference in the group, but need to win today to guarantee their progress (a draw will do if Japan lose to Poland). Senegal need to draw to be sure of going into the knock-out rounds, and to better Japan’s result to go through in first place. As it stands, Japan and Senegal have scored the same number of goals, conceded the same number of goals and have identical head-to-head records, leaving open the tantalising possibility of a drawing of lots if both get identical results today and Japan have precisely two more players booked.
Group H table:
Important musical update
Currently No1 in Colombia: No Es Justo (AKA, for reasons I can’t explain, ノ・エス・フスト) by J Balvin:
I have no idea what’s No1 in Senegal, despite looking quite hard for a chart, but when I listened to Radio Dakar Musique a little earlier they were playing Djoko by Omar Pene, so I will arbitrarily declare that their top song of the moment:
Precisely four years ago to the day, James Rodriguez did this:
Trip down memory lane dept
This is the fourth game between Colombia and African opponents at the World Cup. In 2014 they beat the Ivory Coast 2-1; in 1998 they beat Tunisia 1-0. In the first such game, back in 1990, Rene Higuita totally ManuelNeuered his team out of the tournament:
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