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Belgium's surprising approach to England match

30 June, 2018, 18:36 | Author: Drew Briggs
  • England WAGs dinner

"Winning the World Cup on 15 July would be an unanswerable response". Neither team needed to win and there was good reason for neither to even want to win.

England and Belgium meet on Thursday to determine the victor of Group G, but neither are likely to be too disappointed with a runner-up spot.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez knows that after his 1-0 victory over England, there is a possibility of the team meeting Brazil in the quarter finals but believes in the philosophy that you have to be prepared to beat the best.

Negotiate that, and England will face one of France, Argentina, Uruguay or Portugal in the semi-finals. "You can not plan the ideal scenario, you've seen big nations already eliminated".

Neither team wanted to make it appear as if they didn't want to seal all three points, but both would rather have finished second in Group G. Belgium made nine changes and still won.

In what turned out to be one of the most boring games this tournament, Belgium eventually proved to be the better side on the night, albeit marginally.

Gareth Southgate's decision to rest several of his first-choice XI - only John Stones, Jordan Pickford, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek retained their spots from the side that brushed aside Panama so handsomely - offered an opportunity to the rest of this squad to show they should be starting for this England side.

The reward for progressing past the round of 16 would be a tie against the victor of Sweden vs Switzerland, with a potential semifinal clash against one of Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark.

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"It doesn't derail us", he said. "When you are a leader and a manager you have to make decisions that are right for your group and your primary objectives".

"He's a courageous manager and he makes big decisions in big times", Maguire said of Southgate, who's been criticised for his lineup.

Watch Neville's brilliant post-match speech here.

England's support has swelled as the team have excelled in the tournament.

"We know that depending on which players we pick in certain positions, we just have a different profile of threat. But the goal felt slightly out of place here, in a match neither team was trying too hard to win".

Moments later Pickford let a Michy Batshuayi effort squeeze past him and was rescued by Gary Cahill's goal-line clearance.

On the other end, Kane's replacement up front for England, Jamie Vardy, tried his luck with a header. Belgium, reputedly keen to finish second to avoid that potential clash with Brazil, stepped up a gear in the second half though, breaking the deadlock through Januzaj. The youngster ventured in the area, cut inside away from Danny Rose, and curled the ball high into the top left corner. And as it came while United's new next big thing, Marcus Rashford, was having a quiet display, it was perhaps even sweeter - though that thought may not have struck him. Due to FIFA's eligibility rulings, Januzaj could have played for Belgium, Albania and Kosovo, at the time an unrecognized Federation Internationale de Football Association member state.

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