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John Aldridge: England expects against Senegal, but I smell a World Cup upset

They beat Iran in the first match 6-2 and instantly, everyone believes ‘It’s Coming Home’ and they are on the brink of winning the World Cup.

England need more from Harry Kane who has struggled at the World Cup. Photo: Nick Potts© PA

John AldridgeSunday World

England take on Senegal at the World Cup today – and I expect them to be given a very uncomfortable evening.

This has been a tournament of shocks so far, with my bet on Belgium not going well as they are among the big-names heading home early.

Germany’s exit was another shocker and now England are heading into a game where the pressure is all on them to perform.

To be in England when a major football tournament is on is always an interesting experience.

They beat Iran in the first match 6-2 and instantly, everyone believes ‘It’s Coming Home’ and they are on the brink of winning the World Cup.

Then they produce a horrible performance and draw with USA and the media turn on manager Gareth Southgate and his players.

A few days later, they beat a poor Wales side and suddenly they are champions-elect once again.

There is never any middle ground in the way England deal with highs and lows and that doesn’t help them in games like this.

Senegal are a weakened force without the injured Sadio Mané, but they will be desperate to cause a shock today and will have been inspired by the upsets we have seen so far in Qatar.

Harry Kane has looked off the pace for England so far and they need their main man to fire if they are to go a long way in this tournament.

There are also big doubts over the defenders Southgate is relying on.

Harry Maguire has had a disastrous 2022 and Senegal will try and prey on his insecurities.

Keeper Jordan Pickford is also liable to throw in a big mistake that can be so costly at this stage of the competition.

England have also struggled to find a good balance in midfield at this World Cup, with Southgate reluctant to include too many attacking players as that could expose his defence.

This game against Senegal reminds me of England’s quarter-final against Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup.

Back then, there was a feeling that a game against the minnows was effectively a bye for Bobby Robson’s side.

In the end, they were pushed to the brink and needed a couple of late penalties from Gary Lineker to get through.

Yet while I’d expect England to be given a real scare today, they should have enough quality to get through.

That could set up a quarter-final against France, which is where I expect their World Cup adventure to end.

And when they do eventually go home without the trophy once again, the players and manager will be condemned as losers who have let their country down,


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