Monday, 23 July, 2018

England, Belgium set to battle for second spot?

Lukaku celebrates after scoring against Tunisia at the World Cup Lukaku celebrates after scoring against Tunisia at the World Cup
Sergio Cook | 28 June, 2018, 13:40

English fans celebrate their team's opener match at the Fifa Fan Fest area in Kaliningrad.

With progress to the last-16 already assured, both sides are planning changes for Thursday's Kaliningrad encounter despite the match deciding the victor of Group G.

Here is England's route if they win Group G.

"That is what attracts everybody to World Cup".

With all the unexpected scorelines, France, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and Uruguay have all ended up on the same side of the knock-out draw, while Spain is the only recognised superpower on the other side of the draw.

The group winners will play Group H's runners-up on Monday night, with the side finishing second facing whoever tops that section 24 hours later. "As team mates we know each other better than other opposition".

Japan: Advance with a draw.

Expect drama and entertainment aplenty after impressive displays from both teams so far.

Jose Mourinho sees England's a Group G decider with Belgium as being a "match full of friends" but which players will be cut from their opponents' Christmas card list when the final whistle blows in Kalinigrad on Thursday? . As things stand, Belgium are second having picked up one more yellow than England.

All these permutations set the intriguing scene for Friday morning's match with the two teams on six points each, eight goals for and two goals against.

If England win, the star strikers looking to take them down are Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Mbappe, Neymar and Javier Hernandez. England now sits on top, with only one yellow card versus Belgium's three bookings. "They know everything about each other and [there is] lots and lots of quality in both teams".

But coach Gareth Southgate said his team are focused on winning, not on plotting a particular route through the knockout stages.

Speaking at Wednesday's press conference, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez revealed his team news but played down any concerns that Lukaku, scorer of four goals in Russian Federation, was a long-term concern.

Group G's joint-leaders have both beaten Tunisia and Panama already and are level on goals scored and goals conceded, making Thursday's clash of utmost importance in their bid to top the pool.

If the two teams draw - and thus are tied for points, goals for/against and goal difference - then the victor of the group will be decided on fair play, which tallies up each side's yellow and red cards. "We've not won a knockout game since 2006", he said in response to a journalist's question about who he would prefer to face in the semi-final.

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