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Belgium defeat England 1-0 as stars watch from bench

06 July, 2018, 22:27 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • Dries Martens

The victor of Group G will play Japan in the last-16, and then a potential quarter-final against either Brazil or Mexico.

Their battle in Kaliningrad follows the dramatic exit of Joachim Loew´s 2014 winners, who finished rock bottom of their group after a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, the final humiliation after a campaign that never caught fire.

While Marcus Rashford's eagerly awaited debut in a World Cup finals tournament turned into an evening of frustration, Adnan Januzaj found himself the unlikely toast of Belgium.

With both teams safely through to the knockout stages, each coach has suggested they will make changes - as many as 10 have been mooted for Belgium whilst Gareth Southgate will also shuffle his English pack in Kaliningrad.

Such was the curious conclusion to the group stage at the World Cup on Thursday. "We just want to keep winning and winning".

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play in the next round but we are pleased that we're in the next round".

Belgium became the third team to have a 100% win ratio at the 2018 World Cup, after Uruguay and Croatia.

It would have been even sweeter for England had Japan stuck to the script and won their last group game against Poland and topped their group.

Speaking in his prematch news conference on Wednesday, Martinez said the results from the scans had been positive for the long term, but he fears Belgium's all-time top goal scorer might have to sit out the England encounter.

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But in an England side that is being built for the future, the fact he already looks calm, assured and like he belongs at the top level is something to get excited about.

The two managers made a combined 17 changes - Belgium nine, England eight - leading many to dub this game the phoney war.

Kane and Co. will be playing against Colombia, and manager Gareth Southgate is calling it the "biggest knockout game for a decade".

"We want to perform well but I think the priority is not to win", he said. "The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify, and we have done that". The most important thing for me is that the players are in the best physical condition for the game on Tuesday.

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"We want to win the game, that would mean we would top the group, and we play who we play in the next round", Southgate added. "We're sorry we didn't play like world champions". Of course, they will knock each other out before the quarter-finals but the Group G toppers will meet either Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals.

"Winning the World Cup on 15 July would be an unanswerable response".

Before the match there was much discussion about whether it was better to finish first or second in the group.

Aliou Cisse´s Senegal will attempt to succeed where the rest of their continental rivals failed, with Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia all out.



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