Belgium players with yellow cards unlikely to face England

Grant SmithJul 07, 2018

- Kane factor - Captain Harry Kane is the top goalscorer at the World Cup with five goals so far and the Tottenham talisman is likely to start against Belgium.

Falling behind proved the catalyst for England's most attacking spell of the game. This could be their one and only start in a World Cup, with millions watching around the world, so of professional pride will kick in.

It's not the end of the World Cup journey, though, as we finished as runner-up in the group stages, and are through to the knockout stages.

And England? Two weeks ago they were a work in progress, forcing their toes into the new shoe of Gareth Southgate's 3-5-2 formation, embarking on a World Cup finals without the beery roar of the usual 20,000 fans in tow.

Januzaj has often been accused of coasting through his career and potentially wasting the huge talent he was born with, but on a night when most of his teammates and opponents were taking it easy, the former Manchester United winger showed he can still make his mark at the top level. Why we are starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me.

This misguided notion that you have to beat the best to win the World Cup was proven false when Germany reached the 2002 final - although the lack of elite opposition perhaps proved telling when Die Mannschaft fell to Brazil after knockout wins over Paraguay, USA and South Korea. Only one of the above deductions shall be applied to a player in a single match.

Whoever comes second would also play two of the three knockout rounds to the final in the comfort of Moscow - where Belgium have their camp - whereas the victor faces thousands of air miles travelling to Rostov-on-Don, Kazan and St Petersburg.

Others - perhaps with more hands-on experience in such matters - placed greater emphasis on maintaining momentum.

England barely seemed troubled by losing. A draw would have put both sides equal on points, goal difference and head-to-head, meaning whoever had the most yellow cards would finish second.

Southgate's approach has been backed by the players.

The coaches of both teams chose to keep their leaders, because after two rounds of the British, the Belgians decided the question with an exit in 1/8 final. "I don't know how we would go into a game not wanting to win and not wanting to play well".

His display may have given Southgate plenty to think about ahead of the game with Colombia, although England do have plenty of options in defence. "I wasn't so comfortable with the love-in in the buildup to Belgium, to be honest, so it's nice that there's a little bit of an edge back".

"We need to keep winning football matches and we want to breed a mentality that everybody in our squad wants to constantly win", said the manager, who has created a relaxed atmosphere for his young charges.

England, at least publicly, has emphasized the fact they want to win the match.

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