Today at the World Cup: Tuesday June 19 Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal all play their first matches

It is the turn of Group H to feature in the World Cup, while hosts Russia are also in action against Egypt.

First in action are Colombia, who play Japan in Saransk on Tuesday lunchtime, before fellow Group H sides Poland and Senegal meet in Moscow later that day.

Tuesday’s proceedings end when Russia and Egypt take part in their second Group A encounter of the tournament in Saint Petersburg, a clash that could see Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah return from injury.

World Cup fixtures
World Cup venues

Who’s playing today?

Colombia v Japan (Group H) – Mordovia Arena, 1pm

Poland v Senegal (Group H) – Otkritie Arena, 4pm

Russia v Egypt (Group A) – Krestovsky Stadium, 7pm

What’s the deal?

So far we have seen 28 of the 32 competing nations at Russia 2018, with the four remaining teams in action on Tuesday to complete the set.

The first game should see Bayern Munich playmaker James Rodriguez line up for Colombia against Japan, four years after the 26-year-old won the Golden Ball having been voted the best player at the 2014 World Cup.

Next up are Poland and Senegal, the final two countries to feature at this summer’s tournament, who go head to head in the Russian capital on Tuesday afternoon, the very first time these two sides have played each other.

However, all eyes will surely be on the Krestovsky Stadium on Tuesday evening when Stanislav Cherchesov’s team have a chance to all-but-secure qualification for the knockout phase of the World Cup by beating an Egypt side that are in urgent need of the three points.

Merson’s predictions

Colombia v Japan

I quite like Colombia, I think they will do OK, and this is the group England are set to meet in the second round. So it all depends how that works out. But I think Colombia will win this one, they are a decent team, they came second behind Brazil in South American qualifying – which is a big thing over so many games – and that is why I am backing them to win this one.


Poland v Senegal

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski is a massive price to get top goalscorer, but the only problem is he is probably just going to play four games. This is a hard game, though, so I am going to go for a 1-1 draw – this is another one of those games that neither side can afford to lose as they will probably then be out. So you take a draw here, beat Japan, take a draw against Colombia and then take it from there.


Three to watch

James Rodriguez: Colombia’s main man is expected to shake off a muscle issue and take his place in the South Americans’ starting line-up as they kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan.

That will give Jose Pekerman and Co a massive lift given the playmaker is his side’s most important and creative player, despite a relatively lacklustre season with Bayern last time out.

However, James will no doubt be desperate to remind the watching world of his vast array of talents, so expect the star of the last World Cup to put on a show at the Mordovia Arena.

Colombia hope to have James Rodriguez (left) fit to face Japan
Colombia hope to have James Rodriguez (left) fit to face Japan

Sadio Mane: The Liverpool forward enjoyed a wonderful 2017/18 campaign for the Merseysiders, helping the club go all the way to the Champions League final, while he also played an integral part in his country qualifying for Russia 2018.

The good news for The Lions of Teranga is that the 26-year-old’s form only got better as the campaign wore on, as shown by his eye-catching display against Real Madrid in Kiev in May.

Mane’s pace and trickery will be key if Senegal are to get their tournament off to a winning start against Poland.

Mo Salah: The forward was expected to lead the line when Egypt began the World Cup against Uruguay on Friday, only for the Liverpool man to miss out as he continued his recovery from the shoulder issue that forced his early exit from the Champions League final.

However, Salah has been declared 100 per cent fit by Egypt’s team doctor and his agent, leaving little doubt he will be thrown back into action in the Pharaohs’ hour of need.

And boy could Hector Cuper’s team do with just one of the 44 goals Salah scored for the Reds last season when they face a Russia team who thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game.

Also look out for…

Did psychic parrot Olivia get it right?

Japan’s hopes of winning their opening World Cup fixture have been written off before a ball has been kicked – by a chirpy parrot believed to possess psychic powers.

The grey-feathered tipster called Olivia, who lives north of Tokyo, predicted Colombia would beat their Group H rivals.

Olivia, one of several animal psychics to have taken on the extra work in recent years, plucked a tiny Colombia flag with its beak and handed it to a zookeeper after briefly flirting with a third flag that represented a draw.

But has she got the prediction right….?

Be careful what you wish for

Russia take on Egypt on Tuesday night, but that isn’t stopping Russia’s coach wishing the injured Mohamed Salah is fit to play.

Stanislav Cherchesov wants Egypt’s biggest star to play because it will heighten the contest: “God willing, he’ll be fit and entertain the fans, not just of Egypt but the whole world. He’s the kind of player who lights up games and tournaments like this.”

All of which seems very generous of Cherchesov, but will he be quite so forgiving if the Liverpool forward scores the goals to beat his side in St Petersburg?

The morning after the day before

England will be training in Respino this afternoon having got their World Cup campaign underway on Monday night.

And Sky Sports News will be bringing you the first 15 minutes of the session from 12.30pm, while there will also be coverage of England’s media conference with one of the squad members from 4.30pm.

Stat of the day

Poland’s clash with Senegal will be the first encounter between the two nations.

On this day

Brazil beat Wales 1-0 in the World Cup quarter-finals in Sweden, a 17-year-old Pele scoring the only goal.

What the papers say

Predictably, after England’s last-gasp 2-1 victory over Tunisia on Monday night – secured thanks to captain Harry Kane’s injury-time header – the papers in the UK were dominated by images of the Tottenham Hotspur striker this morning.

Headlines varied from The Times’ ‘Justice’, to the Daily Express‘ ‘Harry Houdini’ and the Daily Mail’s ‘You’ve been Kaned’, as well as the Metro’s‘Captain Marvel’.




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