England have connected with the fans again, says Gareth Southgate

Tuesday, 03 Jul, 2018

Both teams will relish the opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals where they will meet the victor of the tie between England and Colombia that kicks off later in the day.

But excitement goes hand in hand with tension at this juncture, with England teams of the past failing to cope with mounting pressure. The route we've got now is Colombia, who have been poor and had James Rodriguez limped out of the Senegal game. "I'd be willing to step forward".

Alli gives England's attack an added dimension, which could prove crucial with his Spurs colleague Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina forming a solid partnership at the centre of Colombia's defence. We are going to have to play the big teams sooner or later, and if you want to be the best team in the world, you have got to beat the big teams. There is not really a set five yet, but everyone is confidence enough to go over and take one.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, England midfielder Jesse Lingard looked ahead to the Colombia game saying the South Americans were a "tough and physical side, but we are aware of our qualities and our threats". "You want to be involved in the games that matter and the lads have the chance to write their own stories now".

England have lost six of their last seven competitive shootouts, and Rashford insists it would be foolish not to be practicing.

"I feel like we've started to connect the team with the public again".

Which team are you supporting in the 2018 World Cup? In spot-kicks awarded during games, he has saved only three out of 38 and one in his last 15.

"I had a similar injury when [Spurs] played Real Madrid and I scored two", Alli said, reflecting on his star turn in Spurs' thrilling 3-1 win over the European champions at Wembley last November.

The tournament is considered wide open following the elimination of Germany, Spain and Argentina but Southgate refuses to get carried away with his team's chances.

The winners of that tie will face Sweden, whose last semi-final was in 1994, or Switzerland - who have never been beyond the last eight. Since then, they have always been knocked out whenever they've reached the round of 16 (1994, 2006, 2014), not scoring a single goal in any of those three games. "We've changed our whole mindset for it".

"I think they're a great side".

England struggled against Belgium when they weren't able to get the ball into the middle in advanced positions. Tuesday, they'll have to step on the pitch and face a unsafe Colombia team that many are overlooking, but if England make that mistake, they'll face an early trip home from Russian Federation and again let down a nation that is just again beginning to believe in its national team.