World Cup: England can prey on Senegal’s vulnerability from crosses in last-16, says Chris Sutton
CHRIS SUTTON: England and Harry Maguire can prey on Senegal’s jitters from crosses in their last-16 clash… the AFCON champions have conceded a goal from a delivery in EVERY game during the World Cup
Senegal have conceded a goal from a cross in every game they have played at this World Cup. That is surprising for a team who have 6ft 4in Pape Abou Cisse, 6ft 2in Abdou Diallo and 6ft 1in Kalidou Koulibaly in their central defensive ranks.
Against the Netherlands, there was a cross by Frenkie de Jong and a header by Cody Gakpo. That’s one. Against Qatar, Ismaeel Mohammad’s cross was headed in by Mohammed Muntari. That’s two.
Against Ecuador, there was an inswinging corner from Gonzalo Plata, a flick-on by Felix Torres and a tap-in by Moises Caicedo. That’s three.
Senegal have conceded a goal from a cross in all three of their World Cup games so far
Moises Caicedo tapped in from a corner for Ecuador in Senegal’s final Group A game
Against England, Phil Foden’s outswinging corner led to a thunderous header from Harry Maguire.
OK, that last one hasn’t happened yet. Call it wishful thinking! But those other three goals show England that Senegal can be vulnerable to balls into the box.
The Ecuador corner will have been studied by England’s army of analysts. Senegal were marking zonally. Their defenders all had their designated areas and yet there was no accountability.
When the ball came in centrally from Plata, nobody moved except for Ecuador’s players. Torres flicked on his header and, thanks to Senegal placing Youssouf Sabaly on the front post and nobody on the back, Caicedo was there to score. Easy.
Senegal defenders were incredibly static for the goal and it was easy for Caicedo to score
England should be using Harry Maguire to target with every corner they win on Sunday
England would love it if Senegal were this naive on Sunday. Maguire is made for winning those headers, especially if the opposition defenders are as static as they were for that Ecuador goal.
Chances are we would see him steamroll in and score, just like he did against Sweden in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Whenever England have a corner at the Al Bayt Stadium we know who the target will be, and it will be interesting to see if Maguire is designated his own man-marker by Senegal to make life more difficult for him. Leaving him all on his own would be a major risk.
Maguire could easily repeat his goal against Sweden in the quarter final at the 2028 World Cup
England’s use of the ‘love train’ at the 2018 World Cup was a great success. It involved Gareth Southgate’s players lining up towards the back of the penalty box before darting off in different directions to attack the cross. It made it tricky for opponents who were man-marking to stick with specific players.
England have not been as clinical from their set-pieces at this World Cup compared to the last, when they scored nine goals from dead-ball situations. Southgate and his coaching staff will have been trying to work out how to improve their efficiency.
We know Senegal have been vulnerable to crosses at this tournament, so let’s see what England can do on Sunday.
Three key clashes
Kyle Walker v Ismaila Sarr
Wales hardly tested Kyle Walker on his first start for club or country since October 2. That was a nice, trouble-free return for the Manchester City right back. But Ismaila Sarr shouldn’t be so kind. With his pace, the Watford winger can trouble Walker, who will hope to keep his place ahead of Kieran Trippier.
Kyle Walker could be troubled by Ismaila Sarr if he is picked to start ahead of Kieran Trippier
Sarr (right) will not be as kind as Wales were when coming up against Walker on Sunday
Jude Bellingham v Nampalys Mendy
Idrissa Gueye is suspended for Senegal. A blow, that, to lose the Everton defensive midfielder. Instead, word around the Senegal camp is Nampalys Mendy of Leicester will replace Gueye and try to stop Jude Bellingham from seeing the ball. The USA won the midfield battle against England by restricting Bellingham. Can Senegal do the same?
Harry Kane v Kalidou Koulibaly
Tottenham versus Chelsea. The last time Kane faced Koulibaly, or Edouard Mendy for that matter, he scored a stoppage-time leveller at Stamford Bridge in August. Koulibaly is physical and likes to do his defending up close and personal, but Kane likes to drop deep and operate away from the opposition defenders. It will be interesting to see who wins the battle.
It will be interesting to see who wins the battle between Harry Kane and Kalidou Koulibaly
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