World Cup ICYMI: RO16 – Switzerland vs. Sweden, England vs. Colombia

The Round of 16 came to an end last night in spectacular and dramatic fashion. And guess what… England won a penalty shootout!

The nation has been sent into pandemonium – which is extremely hard for a Welshman living in England, I may add – and many believe football is truly coming home.

In Short

  • Sweden have been one of the World Cup’s surprise packages. Written off in qualification, written off in the group stage and, although people may have fancied them here, few would’ve predicted that Sweden would be World Cup Quarter Finalists.
  • For the nation, it will be a huge confidence boost as they step out of the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His absence has made Sweden stronger, and young stars like Emil Forsberg have stepped up to the plate.
  • It was indeed Forsberg who gave Sweden the winner; a lucky deflection off Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji sent the ball flying into the top corner.
  • Fast-forward to the evening game and it was a scrappy game of the highest proportions. While England fans fumed at Colombia’s antics, the English side did drop to their level at times, too. Jordan Henderson’s headbutt was an example.
  • What England must be praised for, though, is their confidence on the ball. On a number of occasions they recycled the ball around their back-line, playing often risky balls in and around their own area.
  • While many England fans would be shouting at their tellies, Southgate must be applauded for introducing a style of football that the modern England needs. John Stones in particular was stellar at playing out from the back, although that is to be expected.
  • The opening goal came from an England penalty – and it was a long time coming. To say that Colombia were shirty in the box is an understatement and the referee had no choice.
  • England largely looked dominant from then on, and Colombia didn’t muster too many chances – they clearly missed James Rodriguez.
  • The equaliser came from a set-piece in the dying minutes, Yerry Mina sending a header above Kieran Trippier on the left post. The Colombian centre-back – who is on Barcelona’s books but looks set to depart due to a limit of non-EU squad spaces – has been hugely impressive throughout the tournament and will certainly alert plenty of European clubs looking for a centre-half.

The Takeaway

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England won a penalty shootout. That’s right. England won a penalty shootout.

When the game ended 1-1 and neither side managed to score in extra-time, there were nerves all across England. As a nation, the English are synonymous with penalty shootout failure.

Therefore, a lot of credit must go to Gareth Southgate and his team for guiding England to a penalty shootout win. By all accounts, Southgate is the first England manager to dismiss the idea of a penalty shootout as a game of luck. Instead, he and assistant coach Steve Holland have built an ethos of performing under pressure, which has allowed the England players to master the penalty shootout.

All England penalties were struck well. Even Jordan Henderson – who was superb last night, by the way – struck his penalty well into the right-hand corner, with David Ospina making a brilliant save.

The takeaway? England have hope. England have shut out the hoodoo of the penalty shootout. Is football coming home? I don’t think so, but last night was a big moment for English football.

Goal of the day

Slim pickings, to be honest. We’ve gone from not being able to choose between two wonderful goals yesterday to clutching at straws today.

I’ve gone with Yerry Mina’s equalising header last night. Harry Kane’s goal was from the penalty spot, and Emil Forsberg’s was a huge deflection, so this is the only goal of any quality.

It was a wonderful header from Mina, who towered above the England back-line to guide the ball downwards and then up into the far corner of the goal.

It was too high for Kieran Trippier, who could do nothing but help the ball into the goal.

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