If I go and headbutt Roberto... Southgate laughs off permutations talk

Friday, 29 Jun, 2018

Belgium and England have each played three games at this World Cup, combining for five wins, and we still don't know all that much about either of them.

Gary Neville did just that on ITV's coverage of the defeat to Belgium.

Victory for either would see them top Group G, and Dier believes familiarity with numerous Belgians on Thursday could help England's cause. This means that if there's a draw, the victor will be decided by the fairplay score.

Despite a huge scare for Lionel Messi´s Argentina, who needed a late goal from Marcos Rojo to edge through to the knockout phase on Tuesday, all of the tournament´s remaining big guns are through to the last 16 in Russian Federation.

Marcus Rashford and substitute Danny Welbeck went closest to an equaliser on a night when Belgium's second ever win in this fixture left England plotting their route to Moscow. It's been a odd end to an absorbing World Cup group stage. We don't like losing, we don't want to lose matches, but the primary objectives we wanted from the evening we've got. The knockout game is the important one. "Why we would be starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me really".

Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Toby Alderweireld are among the Belgium players who are with Premier League clubs.

But the Spaniard is seemingly not amused by the mass changes made by Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate, taking to Twitter to state his frustration that neither have gone with a full-strength team. Although Southgate has stated his intention to win tonight's game against Belgium and take what comes, Belgium's Roberto Martinez had a decidedly more realistic outlook.

"I think it will be an interesting game, a 50-50 game, and both teams are qualified so it will be a unusual game", said Fellaini, who plays in England for Manchester United, having made his name for another Premier League club Everton.

"At the moment we are qualified and I think that was the priority that we were chasing for", he said. That would mean we top the group and can move forward.

"There is more than just Lukaku to worry about and we've got a number of very good players in our team they need to be anxious about too", he added.

England's Harry Kane is leading the race for the World Cup Golden Boot. The loser, meanwhile, will face Colombia in the last 16 after the earlier events in Group H.

Martinez has now given all 20 outfield squad players a game in the World Cup.

If the match is a draw, with the two countries already joint on points, goals scored and goals conceded, it will come down to fair play.

There is, though, something presumptuous about such talk and Colombia, a team with plenty of talent, certainly won't appreciate being considered part of an "easier path" to the quarter-finals.

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