Colombia 'not favourites' for World Cup match against England
Carlos Sanchez (Getty)
Kazan - Colombia defender Carlos Sanchez has insisted the
South American side are not favourites against England, "the country that
invented football", when they meet in the Soccer World Cup last-16 on
England coach Gareth Southgate rested eight first-choice
players in the last group match against Belgium, which they lost 1-0, setting
up a meeting with the South Americans rather than the lower-ranked Japan.
The result also meant England avoided the tougher top half
of the draw, which features heavyweights including Brazil and France.
The winner of the match between England and Colombia in
Moscow will play whoever comes out on top in the clash between Switzerland and
Sweden - but first England have to overcome the quarter-finalists from the
last World Cup.
"We're not the favourites, we're playing against the
country that invented football," said 32-year-old Espanyol midfielder
"But we have our own weapons and once the game starts
the only thing that matters is on the pitch. Matches like this are won by small
details. Colombia fear no one now."
The Colombia camp are crossing their fingers over the
fitness of James Rodriguez, the top-scorer at the World Cup four years ago, who
limped off in their last group match against Senegal with what appeared to be a
recurrence of a groin injury.
Sanchez gave no update on his readiness for the match.
"James is a great player but I am sure that if he
doesn't play there will be other players who can make a difference," he
said. "Each one of us here is prepared and ready to play and whoever plays
will do their best."
England striker Harry Kane was rested in the Belgium defeat
but is still top of the goal scoring charts in Russia, with five goals in two
However, Sanchez said it would be foolish for Colombia to
focus too much on the Tottenham man.
"Harry Kane is an emblematic player who has
demonstrated his quality at this World Cup but we are not only facing him,
we're playing against the whole England team, who have a lot of key
players," said Sanchez, who knows English football well, having spent two
seasons with Aston Villa from 2014 to 2016.