Roberto Martinez happy with top spot

Harry Kane of England celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's sixth goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Panama

England and Belgium would both be favored to beat any of those teams, and while you can't overlook any opponent at the World Cup (just ask Germany), the current World Cup bracket may not favor the top team in Group G.

It led to an unreal atmosphere and a game that sometimes resembled a battle no-one wanted to win, summed by the sound of Belgium supporters cheering yellow cards, knowing their inferior disciplinary record could see them fail to win the group and plot a potentially easier route around Russian Federation. The only thing yet to be decided is who will progress as group victor.

What has England's route been up until now?

If it was a gamble not to go for the win wholeheartedly then it is one Southgate appears at ease with and he certainly had no regrets about his team selection. We're facing Japan, we've got to be ready for it'. I understand why people question those decisions, but we have to prepare the team in the way we feel right.

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

Martinez has suggested he could make wholesale changes to his side but at the very least is expected to rest defender Jan Vertonghen, winger Thomas Meunier and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who have all picked up a yellow card.

Standing in for hotshot Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford got on the blindspot and attempted to find the top corner but his curling effort failed to hit ground.


As such, managers Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez have made a multitude of changes to their lineups, with many fringe players getting the opportunity to impress. "We've not won a knockout game since 2006, why we are starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me, really", Southgate said, bemused by the idea.

"We are happy that tomorrow is probably one day too early, but I don't think he is going to take any longer than that". That would mean we top the group and then we can move forward.

"It's very important for us to protect and give every player the best possible programme to be in the best condition for the knockout games". "We have 20 outfield players who have played in the World Cup and that's extremely beneficial for the feeling in our camp".

'Anybody that plays against Colombia will know they are match ready.

After years of struggling to progress to the latter stages, James Rodriguez´s tournament-topping six goals steered Colombia to their best-ever finish of the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago.

Southgate did not get off the bench during the 2002 World Cup, and has spoken about how, while he clearly wished his team-mates well, ultimately it is not an enjoyable experience for those not involved.

'Maybe we didn't have as many runners in behind tonight and we didn't have the link between the lines quite as well, but lots of good individual moments for all of the players and a lot that we can learn from as well. Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia have all been pushed to the limit in their groups, with only France having a similarly easy ride into the round of 16.

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