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No fear: Belgium refuse to take "easy path"

30 June, 2018, 20:27 | Author: Delia Walker
  • Jesse Lingard shoots

England face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday after losing to Belgium to finish second in their final Group G match.

Martinez's Belgium side ran out 1-0 winners against England in Kaliningrad on Thursday thanks to a wondrous Adnan Januzaj goal and despite making nine changes to their previous team that thrashed Tunisia 5-2 in Moscow.

Had they won their group England would have been on a path to a quarter-final on Friday, July 6 (7pm), on the same evening that Norwich play King's Lynn Town in their first pre-season friendly.

Though the Teranga Lions were level on points with Japan with the same goal difference, they were eliminated because of the new Federation Internationale de Football Association fair play rule.

"We came here with a big squad and everyone is fighting for their place".

"Thomas Vermaelen had a nasty knock in his eye, looked like a boxer this morning so I think he forgot about all his previous problems".

If we don't get to the last four I'd be shocked.

"For me, it's going to be a brilliant game to be involved in", added Southgate.

"Well I think Marouane is a player that often is criticised by a lot of fans, but I think he's a very useful player".

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. "We have to get past Colombia first, they are a unsafe team and we have to beat them and not look into the future".

England's Three Lions' winger Fabian Delph will leave his team's World Cup base in Russian Federation and is expected to head back to United Kingdom ahead of his wife giving birth.

The England manager's decision was also taken with squad harmony in mind. "We can see our level and the level of the best and we want to keep improving".

The game could make or break Southgate after he admitted it is the biggest match England have played in a decade.

There was a odd feeling around the game as both teams were already assured of progress to the last 16, with talk about the best path to the final compounded by a combined 17 changes. I went to two of their games in Brazil [four years ago] - they were incredible occasions.

"After every session we just practise".

Gareth Southgate was impressed by England captain Harry Kane's response to seeing his Golden Boot tilt put on hold, praising the sharpshooter's collective focus ahead of the World Cup knockout phase. But Germany got the better of Argentina on penalties in the 2006 quarter-finals.

QUIZ: Can you name the teams that reached the semis in each SWC?



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