England in easier half of World Cup knockout draw

by Leon Thompson June 30, 2018, 0:38
England in easier half of World Cup knockout draw

Mission accomplished, I suppose.

However, Southgate acknowledges he has left himself open to stinging criticism if England crash out of the World Cup on Tuesday.

If Southgate wanted second and the easier side of the draw, his message did not get through to the Leicester City striker.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has dismissed the notion that England are in the easier half of the World Cup draw.

Opposite number Roberto Martinez is expected to make wholesale changes to his team, with Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku nearly certain to miss out after picking up an ankle knock in Belgium´s 5-2 win over Tunisia.

Colombia reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago. Goalless by half-time, the players were jeered off. Supporters had travelled from far and at great expense to see this and they were being short-changed, by all the changes. Two teams very keen to play well and win.

Around 640 kilometres (400 miles) to the northeast in Samara, Senegal, level with Japan on points, goal difference and goals scored, knew they needed a goal to nudge the Asian team out of the qualification spots.

Don't tell me that path is less complicated than Belgium's expected meetings with Japan, Brazil and whoever else it could meet in Saint Petersburg.

The downside came in the poor display from Eric Dier, whose pedestrian effort cemented Jordan Henderson's place as midfield anchorman while Phil Jones did nothing to suggest he would be a significant figure again. Sometimes those decisions will be criticised and I understand that.

Kane able to give England late victory at World Cup
A cricket score had looked on the cards early on as England ran the North Africans ragged. Pure emotion from captain Kane as his brace gives England three valuable points.

As England move into the World Cup knockout stage, what are the lessons of their setback in Kaliningrad? He gets energised when he is alone and uses the time to mull things over.

"Harry was brilliant about it", said Southgate, as he was asked about the absence of Kane.

"Everybody knows the most important game is the knockout round".

Fortunately England manager Gareth Southgate is not getting carried away by the hype.

He contradicted himself by essentially saying England is still growing ahead of a fixture in which it can't afford to be uncertain.

Unlike Southgate, the former Everton and Wigan manager said he was approaching Thursday´s game with one eye firmly on the knockout rounds. Of course, given how the smaller teams have performed with South Korea beating Germany and Iceland holding Argentina, one shouldn't get too excited of facing a "weaker team".

The fans certainly won't care, especially these set of fans - the Belgians who have seen their golden generation consistently underachieve, and the English who are perhaps the most tortured group of fans in world football.

Southgate was adamant nothing other than three points against Belgium has been discussed, insisting his side are prepared for the prospect of facing more hard opponents, having beaten Panama and Tunisia so far in Russian Federation. "Things were always going to be a little bit disjointed".

"Many debutants were desperate to be involved and that pleases me", he said.

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