England in easier half of World Cup knockout draw

England in easier half of World Cup knockout draw

England in easier half of World Cup knockout draw

England and Belgium still have plenty left in the tank for the knock-out stages but how much will the group games have taken out of their rivals?

Top of the group, above Belgium, or second, behind Roberto Martinez's team? "I think the intensity of the game will be good because the players that come in when you make changes have a high level of motivation", England coach Gareth Southgate said.

"We made eight changes, nine if you include the substitution at half-time". It won't be easy, but England have to believe that there is a chance there begging for them to take it.

Southgate acknowledges there is a balance to be struck between keeping his side fresh and injury-free and maintaining the momentum they have gained, particularly from the 6-1 crushing of Panama.

"I ask that we go step by step and I see the people in Belgium are very proud of this team, they should be, we have been doing well", he added.

Harry Kane's involvement is one of the tricky decisions facing Southgate.

That appeared to affect England more than Belgium, with the Three Lions lacking direction and leadership until a late flurry to find an equaliser in the closing stages.

The Group G winners will be on the side of the draw that includes big names Argentina, France, Portugal and Brazil, while the only pre-tournament favourite on the runner-up's side is Spain.

The scenario remains as many had predicted, but when the two sides meet at Kaliningrad Stadium tomorrow morning, the world will be watching for a different reason.

With a spot in the knockout round already cemented, England and Belgium will face off in the final round of group play on Thursday to secure the top place in Group G.

Playing Colombia will be harder than playing Japan (who we would have played if we won tonight), but it does mean an easier draw after that - dodging Brazil.

"Harry was brilliant about it", said Southgate, as he was asked about the absence of Kane. "Now, rather than having players not on the training ground because they're recovering, we'll have a gym session on Friday and players ready to start training for Colombia the next day".

The victor on Thursday will become only the third team, along with Croatia and Uruguay, to win all three group games.

Belgium have the resources to better overcome the absence of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. That would mean we top the group and then we can move forward.

"I think that was the most important thing at the right stage for me and now I'm doing this so I'm very pleased with that and hope to continue".

"So why we are starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me, really".

Related news

[an error occurred while processing the directive]