When England play Belgium, neither may really want to win

Dries Martens

Dries Martens

The Belgium win capped a unusual last day of the group stages in Russian Federation after Colombia earlier qualified top of Group H, with Japan joining them in the knockout phase despite a 1-0 defeat to Poland in Volgograd.

England impressed in their opening two World Cup games, beating Tunisia 2-1 in Volgograd and thumping Panama 6-1 in Nizhny Novgorod.

England will play Colombia while Belgium takes on Japan in the round of 16.

England launched a wave of attacks on Belgium's defence later on but the Red Devils' defence made sure they see out a victory in the game.

Jose Pekerman has refused to entertain the prospect of seeing Colombia´s stuttering World Cup campaign end at the first hurdle.

"We want to win football matches and we also know the big game is the knockout tie to come, so it was hard to balance all of those", he added.

Southgate's lineup, including nine reserves, said more about the importance he placed on the Belgium game than anything he could say but he maintained his decisions had more to do with keeping first-choice players fresh than picking an opponent.

"We have to keep building that belief and building those experiences".

The 61-year-old, from Bradford on Avon, in Wiltshire, said he hoped to see an England win and would not lose out on bookings in Rostov, the city where the Three Lions' could have played had they won the group.

"We need to look at ourselves, we are a stronger group than we were before the game". "The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify, and we have done that".




"I said last night, I think Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry are sat there and they WANT to finish second".

Germany lost 2-0 to South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, meaning the holders finished bottom of Group F. It is the first time since 1938 that a Germany or West Germany side has not progressed beyond the first section of the tournament.

The last-16 ties start on Saturday, with France taking on Argentina in Kazan and Uruguay facing Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Sochi.

"He's gone ahead of some major, major names in English football history in terms of World Cup goals", England coach Gareth Southgate said.

"So, we're in to big matches where margins will be fine and judgment on me will be extremely harsh".

Nine members of the 2014 squad went to Russian Federation and the majority of them were first choice for at least two of Germany's matches. It was the furthest Colombia had ever advanced at the World Cup.

"We are delighted to be in the next round, [the Belgium] game is the one we are focused on and we want to win the group".

But Southgate did concede he would probably make some changes for a clash that neither side needs to win.

England defender Gary Cahill barely saves a Belgian goal after a major blunder by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (seated, centre, and watching) who nearly put the ball in his own net.

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