England’s World Cup mission continues Sunday evening (7pm GMT; TV: Live on ITV), and this is where things start to get serious. First up in the knockouts is Senegal. On paper, it is one of the easier tasks for Gareth Southgate’s men, who must have their wits about them if they are to advance to the final eight. Can the Three Lions get the job done at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor? Or will the Africans break English hearts?
Read on for our England vs Senegal World Cup match preview with betting tips.
England’s qualification from Group B never really looked in doubt, even when they went in at half-time 0-0 against the Welsh on match-day three, it looked like it was just a matter of time before the Three Lions asserted themselves and won the group. They won the group alright, thanks in no small part to an emphatic ten minutes after the break. After scoring nine goals in three group games, keeping two clean sheets in the process, Gareth Southgate’s World Cup hopefuls look primed for a serious crack at the World Cup title for which they are currently 9/1.
For Senegal, it was less straightforward. On match-day three, they were far from safe, even when a goal up against the Ecuadorians, they knew their position was a tenuous one. When they conceded an equaliser, it looked as though they would be heading out, but in the absence of their talisman and regular captain Sadio Mane, up popped stand-in skipper Kalidou Koulibaly with a priceless goal.
What have we learnt from watching these teams in the groups?
We haven’t really seen anything new from England. They still favour getting the job done, and at times, that can be boring, but under Gareth Southgate, such an approach has generally worked well at tournaments. Also, we cannot deny that when push has come to shove, they look dangerous offensively. They have got no shortage of pace out wide, while in Harry Kane, they have a forward who even if he isn’t scoring, has done an excellent job of picking the ball up and feeding those around him, much as he did for England’s second goal against the Welsh.
We know that this English team doesn’t mind being patient, we know that if they must, they can mix it up. They can play in behind the full backs, or they can get the ball into the feet of players such as Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, who can open teams up with their trickery. Either way, they look a real threat, particularly in games where the opponent doesn’t mind getting forward at times.
The Senegalese have shown some versatility too. At times, such as during their game against Qatar, they have looked strong when dominating possession, while they have also looked a huge threat on the break. With the likes of Ismaila Sarr in their forward ranks, who is undoubtedly one of the quickest and most powerful dribblers at this World Cup, they can be very dangerous if teams step on to them, as Ecuador found out last time.
What this Senegalese team also has is no shortage of power, height, and physicality at set pieces. Again, we saw this against Ecuador on match-day three. The English will need to be wary of giving away too many corners or free kicks in crossing positions.
What happens here?
As they have done in each of their three games, England will dominate the ball. They will probably be happy to play it safe a lot too, which means lots of square balls and switching play. Southgate’s men certainly do not mind being patient if teams sit back.
The Senegal players will almost certainly look to keep things tight, especially early on, and their main outlet is likely to be Watford’s Sarr on the break. If England can’t break them down during the early stages, the Africans aren’t likely to change too much, and their plan is likely to be to grow into the game. After all, we have seen just how devastating the English forward line can be at this tournament, so there’s little chance of the Senegalese opening the game up if they don’t have to.
England vs Senegal: Where is the World Cup match bet?
The Three Lions did a very good job of breaking down the Welsh rear-guard, even before they eventually netted early in the second half, they could have easily been a couple of goals ahead. That leads this preview to think that they have got enough quality to force an early breakthrough against the Senegalese, who may not want this game to be open. Senegal are without a clean sheet at this tournament, and if they’re to get a result here, it might have to be because of their offensive rather than defensive quality.
At the end of the day, both teams have shown an appetite for goals, with Senegal scoring five in their last two and England notching nine in Group B. Three or more goals have been scored in four of their combined six in Qatar, and ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ appeals with the top-rated bookmakers.
At appealing odds, ‘Both Teams to Score’ stands out too. England have the attack to really hurt a Senegal team that is without a clean sheet in three at this tournament. This Senegal side has no shortage of power and pace up top, and that could give the likes of Harry Maguire and John Stones something different to think about. After all, the Iranians snuck two goals in against England’s back-line, while Southgate’s men were without a clean sheet in three prior to the World Cup beginning.
So these are the betting tips, at best odds, for this England vs Senegal World Cup game preview:
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.