Meanwhile, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez praised his team’s performance, telling reporters: ‘The victory is a outcome of a very good display. Unlike those poor souls in Group A, Group G’s winners and runners up were already decided, the only thing to be decided was in which order.
Here are the highlights from day 15 at the World Cup.
Romelu Lukaku is likely to miss the match for Belgium, which has stated it will rest a number of regulars.
In Group H, Colombia finished top of the standings with a 1-0 victory over Senegal while Japan barely squeezed into the final 16 despite losing 1-0 to Poland – because the Samurai Blue had fewer tournament yellow cards than Senegal. We talked about momentum but momentum shifts in games. We’re facing Japan, we’ve got to be ready for it’.
England is unbeaten in the previous 11 meetings with Belgium, and is unbeaten in the 2 matches both teams have played in the World Cup.
The teams feature 35 players from last season’s Premier League between them, including the entire England roster, and are playing for the top spot in Group G as they both have two victories in two matches. But losing to Belgium hands Gareth Southgate’s lads the perceived easier route to the final.
Rashford had by a distance England’s best chance 25 minutes from time, but again slotted wide with just Courtois to beat.
In reality, the answer can only be given after Tuesday’s last-16 game when Southgate’s England are restored to full force. Families and friends of other squad players are traveling out for the Belgium game in the hope they will play.
Resting some starters and with possibly more to be gained with a loss in the match than a win, England never attacked with a convincing effort, and the match ended at the 1-0 mark.
“We’re always talking with our players about discipline on the pitch, avoiding giving away unnecessary free-kicks”.
Spare a thought for a reporter in a pickle.
The result means Belgium, who won all three of their group games to finish on nine points, will face Japan in the last 16 while England, who came second with six, take on Colombia.
And a seven-year-old tweet from Southgate also found some popularity.
“I’m extremely concerned, it’s a very tough situation for my team”, he said.
Former England defender Gary Neville told ESPN FC recently that the successful teams in major tournaments are often the most resilient rather than the best and England and Belgium have an advantage in terms of resilience because their energy levels should be higher than virtually everyone else’s.
If England win in Moscow, it will be a case of no harm done and they can march on to a winnable World Cup quarter-final against either Sweden or Switzerland.