By William Hill
Last Updated: 5th June 2020
While optimists are already debating if they’d rather face Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals, the immediate question is which Group H team will England play in the round-of-16?
The Three Lions are assured of a knockout phase spot after wins over Tunisia and Panama, but there are still three different sides they could meet from the tightest World Cup group.
Half of the equation depends on whether Gareth Southgate’s men top Group G. They’re 8/13 favourites because a draw will be enough against Belgium unless they receive more cards.
Both coaches are planning changes and neither are desperate to triumph due to the doubts over whether finishing first or second will present a more appealing draw. These are the options:
Which Group H team will England play? Japan
Japan are 11/8 favourites to win Group H because they have a fair play advantage over co-leaders Senegal and the easier final fixture against already eliminated Poland.
If that match goes to form, it would mean England are only likely to collide with Japan if they concede first place in Group G to Belgium.
The positive to this draw for Harry Kane and co is that Japan have never won a World Cup knockout tie, getting that far twice and being denied by Turkey (2002) and Paraguay (2010).
Which Group H team will England play? Senegal
Senegal are 7/4 to win Group H, with the combination of a fair play deficit to fellow table-toppers Japan and a draw with Colombia being enough to ensure progression making them more plausible runners-up.
They have the best round-of-16 progression rate of the trio, having made it that far just once, outlasting Sweden in 2002, and are the only ones England have never taken on before.
Which Group H team will England play? Colombia
Colombia almost certainly need to beat Senegal to go through. They would do so as runners-up unless Japan drop points, so are 9/4 to lead the way.
Los Cafeteros appear the worst possible opponents for England, who have never lost to Asian or African adversaries at a World Cup, but were knocked out by South Americans in 1998, 2002 and 2014.
Colombia aren’t just any South Americans of course – unlike Japan, Senegal and England, they’ve won a World Cup knockout encounter this decade, defeating Uruguay 2-0 in 2014.
On the flip side, the Three Lions did win the last two head to heads between the pair.