Why England Might Want To Lose Their World Cup Game Against Belgium

Belgium found it easy against Tunisia. Image PA Images

On the other side of the draw, if they beat the top team in Group H, the runners up between England and Belgium will meet either Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-final.

Their battle in Kaliningrad follows the dramatic exit of Joachim Loew's 2014 winners, who finished rock bottom of their group after a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, the final humiliation after a campaign that never caught fire.

"This World Cup so far has been so unpredictable", he argued.

England are in town once again as the 2018 World Cup adventure continues against Belgium at the Kaliningrad Stadium.

England boss Gareth Southgate has already said that he's NOT interested in plotting a seemingly preferable route to the final.

"We have won one knock-out match in the last 15 years or so, so our focus is to keep winning. There are players who have been in very demanding games so its very important for us to protect and give every player the best opportunity to be in the best condition in the knockout games".

"I've got to try and make the best decisions for the group and for this game in particular, and also for what we've got to come".

But in Belgium they face the world's third-ranked side, and a squad loaded with world-class talent such as Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

The Telegraph reports that key men, such as captain Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling will be rested, while the manager won't risk Kyle Walker, a player now on a yellow card and at risk of suspension.

Southgate hinted that he would make some changes to his starting 11 but did not go into specifics.

"His scoring record of goals per game is outstanding", said Southgate. "We are trying to develop a winning mentality and I can't imagine a situation where I stand in front of this group of players and start talking about anything else".

"That's the reality. We wanted to qualify, we've done that".

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After just about squeaking through the group stages at Italia '90, England came up against Belgium in the last 16. They play in the same teams as the English players. Afterward, manager Roberto Martinez promised "major changes" against England.

However, due to results elsewhere, the team that finishes second in the group will end up on the easier side of the draw for the knockout stages, avoiding a potential showdown with Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Lukaku has missed training this week after picking up an ankle injury in Belgium's 5-2 victory over Tunisia last Saturday, and he has since had scans to discover the extent of the injury.

Friday is a rest day in Russian Federation. If they are lucky enough to advance to the semi-final, they will be greeted by one of France, Argentina, Portugal or Uruguay.

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