England vs Senegal predictions: Three Lions to grind out result
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Tom McGarry
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Gareth Southgate has the welcome headache of whether to stick with Marcus Rashford or rotate his options against Senegal
Gareth Southgate has the welcome headache of whether to stick with Marcus Rashford or rotate his options against Senegal

- England have never lost to African opposition at the World Cup, keeping five clean sheets in seven matches 
- Senegal were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands during the group stage 
- Recommended bet: England to win to zero

England and Senegal will go head-to-head for a place in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup on Sunday in what will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides.

The Three Lions booked their place in the last 16 in convincing style, topping Group B with two resounding victories over Iran and Wales, as well as a hard-fought draw with the United States.

Senegal's passage through was not so smooth after they lost their Group A opener to the Netherlands, but victories over hosts Qatar and Ecuador were enough to see the Lions of Teranga reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Team news

Head coach Gareth Southgate rotated his starting XI for England's final group game against Wales, with Kyle Walker, Jordan Henderson, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford all coming into the team and impressing — the latter two getting on the scoresheet.

Those individual performances would have pleased Southgate, but it has also left him with a selection headache as he must now decide whether to keep faith with those players or bring the likes of Kieran Trippier, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling back into the team.

Southgate may also consider switching to a back three for Sunday's game, especially if Walker retains his place. 

The Manchester City defender appears to have come through the Wales game unscathed in what was his first appearance since injuring his groin in the derby against United on October 2.

Senegal's progress through to the knockout stages has been achieved without talisman Sadio Mane, who was ruled out of the tournament on the eve of the finals due to a leg injury.

Head coach Aliou Cisse has managed Mane's absence well, but he will be without another key player on Sunday as Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against Ecuador.

With fellow midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate already ruled out with an ankle injury, Leicester's Nampalys Mendy is expected to come into the line-up.

The pressure in on Nampalys Mendy with Senegal short of options in midield
The pressure in on Nampalys Mendy with Senegal short of options in midield

The stats

England are unbeaten in 20 previous matches against African opposition, with seven of those meetings coming at World Cup finals.

Of those seven games, England have won four and drawn three, while they have also kept five clean sheets. 

The only African teams to have scored against the Three Lions at the World Cup are Cameroon (1990) and Tunisia (2018).

Southgate's side will be chasing a third successive clean sheet on Sunday after shutting out both the USA and Wales, the last time they kept the opposition at bay for three matches on the spin was at Euro 2020.

Senegal have won three of their six meetings with European opposition at the World Cup, although the most recent of those was their 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands at these finals.

African nations have lost eight of their previous nine meetings with European teams in the knockout stages of the World Cup, although Senegal are the exception on that list following their victory over Sweden en route to the quarter-finals in 2002.

Prediction

History shows that England's previous World Cup meetings with African opposition tend to be tight affairs and there is no reason to suggest this fixture will be any different.

Patience may be key for the Three Lions, with the match potentially following a similar pattern to their clash with Wales, which was all-square at the break before England ran out relatively comfortable winners.

Senegal are without a clean sheet in any of their last 10 World Cup fixtures, so England will be confident that they will eventually break the Lions of Teranga down.

The African champions have racked up five goals in their last two fixtures against Qatar and Ecuador, but the game with the Netherlands is perhaps a better gauge as to how they will perform in this match — Senegal struggled to create against the Dutch and were beaten 2-0.

Mane's absence will likely be keenly felt in this game and England should have enough to win the match to zero, which can be backed at 10/11 with LiveScore Bet.

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