Tonight at 10pm: Can Senegal stop England's flow in attack?

Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly, right, celebrates with teammates scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group A soccer match between Ecuador and Senegal, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

England face Senegal in the FIFA World Cup last 16 on Sunday in Al Bayt, around 50 kilometers from Doha.

Gareth Southgate's men will go into the match as favorites after scoring nine goals in the group stage.

So far, when England have been good in this World Cup, they have been very good indeed, with a midfield and attack moving the ball at pace and exploiting the speed and mobility of Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford.

However, the USA showed that with tight, energetic marking, they can be stopped, reducing their play to sterile horizonal passing across the back.

Foden and Rashford came into the side against Wales and impressed, with Rashford scoring twice and Foden also finding the target, as well as adding creativity. Southgate now has to decide whether to stick with the duo or to bring back Mount and Saka.

He also has to make a decision over who plays at right-back, with Kyle Walker getting some minutes in his legs against Wales, and Walker's importance to Southgate could see him preferred to Kieran Trippier.

A lot of attention will also be on Harry Kane, who has altered his role in the England side. Kane has yet to score at this World Cup, and that is partly due to him dropping into a deeper role to participate in buildup play.

That helps open up space for others, but also means he is not getting into the scoring positions that he used to. The fact he has just three goals in 12 matches for England - all from the penalty spot - in 2022 is testimony to that change in style.

Senegal have made it to the last 16 after overcoming the loss of Sadio Mane prior to the World Cup.

They lost 2-0 to the Netherlands in their opening game, but both goals came in the last 10 minutes, before they won easily against Qatar and then outplayed a previously impressive Ecuador to book their place in the knockout stages.

Ismaila Sarr and Iliman Ndiaye play in England's second tier and know the English game well, as do Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, although the suspension of Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye is a blow to coach Aliou Cisse.

Senegal have made up for Mane's loss with five different players netting their five goals so far, and they will have seen how the USA were able to close England down and stop them playing. This could be close. ■

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