England face Belgium with top spot at stake

England WAGs dinner

Perhaps Southgate and England will be rewarded with a group of fresh players, eager to go again against Colombia, who have been pushed to the wire in three Group H games and face an anxious wait over the fitness of talisman James Rodriguez, who limped off during the first half of Thursday's crucial 1-0 win against Senegal.

Both sides have qualified for the last 16, and all that is to be resolved is who finishes top of group G.

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.

But the path to the quarter-final could see a match against Germany or Brazil for the victor - a question which will be determined before England and Belgium clash in Kaliningrad. Januzaj netted his first global goal when he jinked his way inside the England box before curling a glorious shot beyond the fingertips of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Both England and Belgium rested their most important players and the game was sorely lacking in thrilling action.

"We need to keep winning football matches and we want to breed a mentality that everybody in our squad wants to constantly win", said the manager, who has created a relaxed atmosphere for his young charges.

They were habit-forming and in that game, it was natural for me to attempt that volley.

If it was a gamble not to go for the win wholeheartedly then it is one Southgate appears at ease with and he certainly had no regrets about his team selection.

"The victory is a effect of a very good performance. You can not plan the ideal scenario, you've seen big nations already eliminated", said the Spaniard. OK, we didn't win the game, but there was a myriad of other things involved in the decision.

"That´s the reality. We wanted to qualify, we´ve done that".

When the World Cup draw was first released, the final game of Group G between England and Belgium looked like a tantalising prospect - two European superpowers facing off in a match that would likely decide the group winners. Equally, they had one big chance and they took it.

The crowd even took to booing towards the end of the first half it was so bad...

Both England's Harry Kane and Belgium's Romelu Lukaku are both leading the goal tally at the moment, with five and four respectively.

Marcus Rashford had a subsequent chance to equalise for England and reclaim top spot but he missed his chance and let Belgium off the hook.

It could have been Japan in Rostov on Monday, but Adnan Januzaj's 51st-minute goal settled this game in the Red Devils' favour.

"No words!" chided the best-selling Bild daily, over a picture of a despondent-looking Toni Kroos.

Indeed, Martinez said before the match that Belgium's priority was not to win, suggesting he would choose a deliberately weaker starting line-up in the hope of missing out on the top of the pile.



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