Roberto Martinez happy with top spot

Marcus Rashford Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane in action
Will Marcus Rashford start ahead of Raheem Sterling against Belgium? Will Harry Kane be rested? Credit Getty Images
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29 June, 2018

"Play to win, until the final whistle".

'Maybe we didn't have as many runners in behind tonight and we didn't have the link between the lines quite as well, but lots of good individual moments for all of the players and a lot that we can learn from as well. Meanwhile, England, if it beats a James Rodriguez-less Colombia side (which it should), will get the victor of Sweden-Switzerland. A second yellow would mean they would be suspended for the round of 16 game.

While Belgium will undoubtedly enjoy heading into the knockout stage having won every match they've played thus far, the team now finds itself with a much more hard path to the final.

What makes the matchup particularly intriguing is the fact that both England and Belgium head into the game tied on points and with identical goal differences, having each scored eight goals and conceded two.

Another shows fans setting off red flares as the World Cup party appeared to dominate the centre of the county town.

Belgium's win doesn't come without benefit - the team will matchup against Japan in its first match of the knockout round, while England will be facing off against Colombia, likely a more hard draw en route in the round of 16. "Our key objective was to get the players who haven't been playing, some game time".

Southgate held his press conference yesterday afternoon, at the same time that news filtered through from Kazan that holders Germany had been dumped out of the tournament by South Korea.

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Belgium's Manager Roberto Martinez is expected to make at least 6 changes to his lineup with Romelu Lukaku (ruled out with an injury), Dries Mertens (ankle problem), Eden Hazard (nursing a calf problem) along with Thomas Meunier, Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen all of whom are a booking away from suspension.

"Colombia have got some outstanding individuals, but I believe it's a game we can win".

The team is to not look too far ahead in the tournament as this World Cup is very unpredictable, but instead focus on the fame against Japan.

With a number of changes certainly to be made on both teams, it will be more likely a tiresome affair than the exciting one widely anticipated.

Rashford squandered a glorious chance to level with an hour played, being denied by the fingertips of Thibaut Courtois - one of only two survivors for much-changed Belgium from their last outing - when played clean through on goal. "But what that means for the next round, we don't really know", said Southgate.

And if England did have a plan all along, people are hoping that it doesn't go down the drain in the next round, with one person sharing on Twitter: "The most #England thing that could ever happen: Deliberately lose to #Belgium to avoid Brazil in the quarters". The sides were even on points, goals scored and goal differential, meaning the victor would go on to face Japan, the Group H runner-up, next Monday in the Round of 16.

But the Three Lions don't have the best record when it comes to knockout matches.


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