England face Colombia in the Women’s Football World Cup quarter-final on Saturday morning as they bid to take another step towards glory in Australia (11.30am Saturday; TV: Live on ITV1). The Colombians are next up for the Lionesses, who will likely need to improve on their latest showing if they are to progress. Can they get the job done at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium? Read on for the answer to that and more with our big-match preview and betting tips.
The story so far
After entering the knockout rounds off the back of a thumping victory against the Chinese, in which most of Sarina Wiegman’s attacking players thrived, scoring some superb goals, England struggled to hit the ground running against Nigeria.
Perhaps they were complacent after that China game, or maybe they just didn’t have what it took to hurt a physically imposing opponent. Either way, things didn’t go to plan, and as the game edged towards stoppage time, no goals had been scored. That was far from an ideal time for the talismanic Lauren James to foolishly get herself sent off for a needless stamp, but thankfully, it didn’t prevent England’s progression. The Lionesses held firm and eventually emerged victorious thanks to their superior set of penalties. Crisis averted, but improvement needed.
Colombia probably advanced to the knockout rounds of this tournament with less confidence than the English, even though they too went through as group winners. They faced a similarly tough opponent in the Jamaicans, who stood firm and refused to be bullied by the South Americans flair. That flair and extra attacking quality eventually told early in the second half, when Catalina Usme beautifully took down a lofted pass inside the area, before calmly steadying herself and slotting the ball into the far corner in composed style.
After coming through what was a tough test, the Colombians, who have already shown that they can tussle with the best at this tournament, will likely fancy their chances, especially after seeing the English largely flatter to deceive during the previous round.
England are outright favourites to win this WWC tournament, while Colombia are the longest price of all. On recent showings, these teams may not be so wide apart as those odds suggest.
Can England improve offensively?
Against Nigeria, this England team once again showed that they are anything but easy to beat. They are well organised, have bags of both defensive experience and astuteness, but they also showed a real lack of ideas in the final third. Against a team that crumbles, as the Chinese did, we know how effective Wiegman’s women can be. If you let them, then they will bully you offensively. They have certainly got the quality to take advantage of poor defending.
However, we also saw some offensive limitations well and truly exposed against the Nigerians, who refused to be easy to beat at the back, which really did disrupt England’s flow. Against teams who can sit in and show defensive strength, Wiegman’s women tend to struggle. We saw that not only during the last game, but against Haiti on match-day one, and to some extent, against the Danes too. In three games against Haiti, Denmark and Nigeria, England’s women have scored just one goal from open play, which is quite concerning.
Colombia have plenty to offer
Few people expected much from this Colombian team, but they have shown that they are certainly not in Australia to make up the numbers, topping a group that contained the Germans. It was against the Germans that this team really started to impress, winning by two goals to one, showing no shortage of attacking style in the process.
England are not an easy team to get at, but the Nigerians weren’t without opportunities during that game in Brisbane, so don’t be surprised if a Colombian side that has plenty of end-product, especially all the time Usme is in form, gets some offensive joy here. After all, this preview is talking about a team that has scored in all but one of the last 18 matches.
England Women vs Colombia: Where’s the bet?
In the match betting with the leading British bookies, the English are big favourites to come out on top, which isn’t surprising. They have more big tournament experience as a team unit, while they have more big-name individual players, players that ply their trade at the very top of women’s club football.
However, we shouldn’t forget that Lauren James, who has been the most effective England player from an attacking point of view, is suspended following that red card. Don’t ignore the fact that the Lionesses have struggled to impose themselves against a couple of so-called lesser teams since landing down under.
At the prices, one might take a punt on ‘Both Teams to Score’. Sure, England have underwhelmed offensively, but the Colombians probably don’t have the same physical qualities that the Haitians or the Nigerians possessed in abundance, which will certainly aid the cause of the Lionesses. Moreover, this Colombia team doesn’t exactly have a great record of keeping clean sheets against the big nations. They conceded against the Germans during the groups, while in 2023, they have also conceded against the likes of Mexico, Italy and France.
What is worth noting, though, is that Colombia have regularly scored against top opposition, while they will enjoy playing on the counter, which is something that they may be allowed to do here as England push to improve in the final third. After all, in 2023, the South Americans have scored in games against Germany, Italy and France.
We know that England have individual quality in that final third. The likes of Rachel Daly, Alessia Russo and Chloe Kelly all showed their end-product against the Chinese and against a less physically demanding opponent, they can resume their progress, but do not be surprised if this isn’t a walk in the park for the English. So for the betting tips for this preview, we suggest this one:
- Both Teams to Score (BTTS) @ best odds of 7/4 with William Hill.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.