January 29, 2023
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Four Players Who Could Make a Difference in England vs Senegal

3 min read
England vs Senegal

The stage is set for the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with some exciting ties set to take place over the coming days — including England facing Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium in the second round of fixtures on Sunday, December 4. 

There was a twist in the tale of Group B in the final round of games, as Ecuador — who needed just a draw against Senegal — levelled the scored through Brighton’s Moises Caicedo in the 67th minute after going 1-0 down to take back second place. But Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly fired the African champions back in front just three minutes later to give them the ascendancy.

This is just the second time the Lions of Teranga have ever progressed from the group, as they made the quarter-finals in Japan/South Korea in 2002, but their chances of making it through to the last eight of this year’s tournament are looking slim — as the Three Lions are the favourites in the England vs Senegal odds.

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It is all still to play for in Al Khor, however. So, let’s take a look at four players — two from each side — who make the difference in the round of 16 matchup.

Marcus Rashford

While Marcus Rashford isn’t guaranteed a starting berth against Senegal, we believe he has earned his place in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI after his performances in the group stages and think he could be one of England’s big difference makers in the tie. 

Few would have backed the Manchester United forward to be England’s top scorer after the groups, but he has already bagged three goals and is playing with a level of confidence we haven’t really seen from him in a while. 

He scored against Iran, making it 5-1 to the Three Lions, and he was the standout performer against Wales — scoring a stunning freekick from the edge of the box before bagging England’s third following Phil Foden’s effort.

Ismaila Sarr

In the absence of talisman Sadio Mane, who suffered an injury plying his trade for Bayern Munich just days before the start of the World Cup, Senegal needed someone to step up to the mark and fill his boots. So far, it’s been more of a collective effort with five different scorers of all of the African champions’ goals. 

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But, as followers of English football, we know the individual qualities that Sarr possesses and are well aware that he can cause the Three Lions’ defence some issues on Sunday. He was a real menace for Ecuador, who fouled him eight times in total as he as also scored a penalty and went on three successful dribbles. 

Harry Maguire

Not the Harry you probably expected to see on this list, we are all well aware of the difference Harry Kane can make in a football match, but we’re going to turn our attention to Harry Maguire. 

There were many fans and pundits alike who wanted the Manchester United defender to be dropped by Southgate ahead of this tournament, but he has thus far shown why he is one of the first names on the England team sheet.

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The 29-year-old centre-back is already a shoo-in for England’s player of the tournament, proving a real menace in the opposition box — even assisting Bukayo Saka against Iran — while being an absolute rock at the other end of the pitch — making over 12 clearances in total and keeping two clean sheets.

Kalidou Koulibaly

A man we mentioned early, Koulibaly became his nation’s hero when he scored the winning goal against Ecuador on Tuesday night and he will be expected to step up to the mark in true captain fashion for Senegal again on Sunday.

Believe it or not, that was the first goal the Chelsea man has ever scored in his 67 appearances for his country — and what better time to bag it? He also made 10 clearances in that game against the South Americans, adding to the seven and eight he made against Qatar and the Netherlands respectively. 

England could find it tough to break down the Koulibaly-led defence. 

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