Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Why England and Belgium may not want to win Group G

Belgium found it easy against Tunisia. Image PA Images Belgium found it easy against Tunisia. Image PA Images
Rita Gibson | 28 June, 2018, 20:28

Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen is eager to take on his Spurs team-mates when Belgium face England in the Group G top spot decider on Thursday.

"We want to see every England fan coming over, especially now we are playing well".

World champions Germany finished bottom of Group E following their 2-0 defeat against South Korea on Wednesday, ruling out the prospect of a potential quarterfinal clash with England in Kazan, while Argentina required an 86th minute victor against Nigeria on Tuesday to avoid being knocked out.

"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.

The scenario remains as many had predicted, but when the two sides meet at Kaliningrad Stadium tomorrow morning, the world will be watching for a different reason.

The Red Devils and the Three Lions have arrived in Kaliningrad with six points out of six and passage to the last 16 already secured.

"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".

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England and Belgium will battle it out in a first-place play-off on Thursday evening and plenty of players are set to be rested for the game. "Why we would be starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me really".

Speaking in his prematch news conference on Wednesday, Martinez said the results from the scans had been positive for the long term, but he fears Belgium's all-time top goal scorer might have to sit out the England encounter.

Martinez also said that his team would be looking to perform well against Gareth Southgate's squad in their group-stage finale, but that winning the match was not the goal on Thursday.

"But I think it's the same like Belgium they have a great attack and then the defence there might be some weakness". They play in the same teams as the English players.

Many pundits think that England will be in a better position if they lose today and avoid a quarter-final clash with Brazil.

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

Aliou Cisse's Senegal will attempt to succeed where the rest of their continental rivals failed, with Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia all out.

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