Dele Alli hopes England’s Tottenham contingent can help to pinpoint Davinson Sanchez’s “very few weaknesses” ahead of Tuesday’s last-16 clash with Colombia in Moscow.
Alli is back to full fitness following a thigh injury sustained during the Three Lions’ opening 2-1 win over Tunisia at Russia 2018 and is in line to return for a match that will pit two of his club colleagues in direct competition.
England captain Harry Kane is leading the Golden Boot standings with five after the group stages but, in Colombia centre-back Sanchez, he will meet a rival entirely familiar with him from hours together on the training field.
“Obviously I hope Harry,” Alli said when asked who he expects to come out on top in the crucial duel between two Tottenham team-mates.
“Davinson’s a great player, a great guy as well. It’s hard not to support him but, as players, there are no friendships on the pitch.
“We have to do our job and hopefully Harry will come out on top.
“[Sanchez] is a great player. I don’t think any player is perfect. We know things about how he plays, he’s got a lot of strengths and we’re going to try as well as we can to exploit his very few weaknesses.
“We’ve not spoken too much since we’ve been here. It’s hard to be friends on the pitch and we stay professional.”
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 30, 2018
England’s much-discussed 1-0 defeat to Belgium in Kaliningrad last time out, where both teams made a combined 17 changes with their places in the last 16 already secured, left Gareth Southgate’s side in second place in the final Group G table.
Victory over Colombia would set up a quarter-final against Switzerland or Sweden but Alli thinks it is foolish to buy into the notion that he and his colleagues have landed in the softer half of the draw.
“That’s very dangerous. We have to approach every game as if we’re playing the best side in the world,” he added.
“We’ve got to get through Colombia. They’re a great side and they’ve got a lot of talent. We have to be switched on to that and not look into the future.”
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