Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sports | By Angie Alvarado

Striker set to sit out England v Belgium clash

Striker set to sit out England v Belgium clash

England now sits ahead of Belgium in the standings, but that could change even if the teams draw, as England is in first due to the "fair play" tiebreaker, which scores teams based on yellow and red cards when goal differential and goals scored aren't enough to determine a victor.

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.

England haven't won a knockout game at a major tournament for 12 years and we are discussing playing to lose to avoid a more hard quarter-final. "We've learned an enormous amount from studying Germany as a team, last summer [at the Confederations Cup] not least, and implemented that".

A large group of supporters gathered in a pub in central Kaliningrad, the capital of the Russian exclave of the same name, and sang late into Wednesday evening. That would mean we top the group and then we can move forward. We want to perform well but the priority is not to win.

"For a country like Denmark, getting out of their group is a great achievement, but there are other teams who have designs on actually winning the tournament".

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play in the next round, but we are pleased we are in it. We play against them near enough every week".

"Now we need to look into our individual players".

England manager Gareth Southgate pointed to Germany's shock World Cup elimination as a warning that every nation is vulnerable at Russian Federation 2018.

Whether Southgate's comments are just lip service or a statement of intent remains to be seen. The Belgians, though, are known for their pragmatism and may not be as anxious about this perception of right and wrong, if the pre-game chatter is to be believed.

How both sides approach the match will be a good indicator of their respective philosophies and team culture.

The last time England and Belgium met at a World Cup, David Platt volleyed a famous extra-time victor to send Bobby Robson's side into the quarter-finals if Italia 90.

However, the World Cup back then had only 16 nations participating with only 26 games overall, but still a total of 140 goals were scored.

In addition, Southgate is likely to give a starting role to Marcus Rashford, instead of the rusty Raheem Sterling, and a sharp performance from the Manchester United striker against quality opposition could see him retain his place for the last-16 match.

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