'If England don't get to the last four I'd be shocked' - Two very contrasting reactions to Colombia tie 2 years ago

'If England don't get to the last four I'd be shocked' - Two very contrasting reactions to Colombia tie

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has said that he would be shocked if England didn't progress to the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

England finished second in Group G behind Belgium with The Three Lions now set to meet Colombia in the round of 16.

England manager Gareth Southgate made eight changes to his side for the final group stage game with Belgium and the loss means that England will avoid Brazil in the quarter-finals should both sides progress from their respective round of 16 ties.

Should Southgate's side defeat Colombia in the round of 16 they would then be poised to face the winner of Switzerland and Sweden in the quarter-finals.

The Three Lions draw has led many, including Merson and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, to predict a final four date for England.


"Fair play to Gareth with what he did against Belgium," Merson wrote in his Sky Sports World Cup predictions column.

"He had to rest everyone because it's been a long Premier League season. Everything's worked out perfectly.

"I watched Colombia the other day and there's nothing to be scared of there for England.

"They are dangerous at set plays but we are as good as anybody at set plays. I was sat there watching the Belgium game saying please don't score!

"If we don't get to the last four I'd be shocked. At the start of the tournament, we were saying that if we'd get past the quarter-finals it'd be great but if we don't get to a semi-final now it won't have been a very good tournament.

"I've always said we've had a chance but at the moment I can't see past Brazil.

"However, from here if we don't reach the semi-finals you have to class it as disappointing. The route we've got now is Colombia, who have been poor and had James Rodriguez limped out of the Senegal game.

"Then it's Sweden or Switzerland. No disrespect to the two countries but if you can't beat them you are not winning World Cups."

Meanwhile RTE soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy predicts that England are going to hit the floor hard and that they do not have the necessary depth to advance to the tournament's latter stages.

"The Belgium game was an interesting experiment as it confirmed England have no strength in depth in their squad," Dunphy said on RTE 2FM's Game On show.

"Ruben Loftus-Cheek was being hailed as a great player last week, but he was useless against Belgium and as for Eric Dier against Belgium...oh my God. So they have no strength in depth.

"Aside from that, the big problem for England is back three and that is not going to work. Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker at the back is not good enough against a top team.

"Maguire is playing on the left side of the defence and he can't kick the ball with his left foot, so that will catch up with them. Their defence is a calamity waiting to happen.

"I think England are going to hit the floor hard at some stage, but they could get to the semi-finals if they get past a tough, hardened Colombia team on Tuesday."