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Was the loss to Belgium a reality check for England?

03 Juillet 2018

While Belgium will undoubtedly enjoy heading into the knockout stage having won every match they have played thus far, the team now finds itself with a much more hard path to the final.

"You can say he is fearless but so is [Belgium manager] Roberto Martinez: he also made a number of changes I think they were both probably looking at the bigger picture and know that the next game is the biggest one of them all".

Southgate has warned his players not to "waste any energy" trying to work out what might lie ahead if they finish first or second in Group G - and just focus on beating Belgium.

Sharon Shaw, 46, a letting agent from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, predicted a 3-1 win for Gareth Southgate's men and believed they could win the tournament. You can see he has got himself together and he played very well. Nothing presumptuous, of course, but when you have meticulously planned every other element of world football domination, you might as well give the authorities prior notice that they may need to shut some roads.

Martinez made nine changes, with Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne among those left out. The game was crying out for some creativity as the fans made their feelings known at half time, booing the players off the pitch.

"Back home the atmosphere has been awesome".

Martinez has already floated the idea of wholesale changes against England, in a game where he claims victory is not a "priority" for his side.

He too wanted to see an England win, predicting 2-1.

"Maybe I have put more pressure on myself, maybe I haven't".

"Brazil don't look that good either".

"He is the captain and he knows he will be judged on how far we go as a team".

They had looked set to take the lead in the 17th minute when Liverpool forward Sadio Mane went down in the area under a challenge from Davinson Sanchez and referee Milorad Mazic pointed to the spot.

"Kane is strong, he has confidence right now, he wants to be the top scorer".

"He's obviously on for the golden boot".

"I don't think it's anything to worry about".

However, with the Three Lions facing Colombia in the last-16, they won't be able to forget about the colour yellow for long.

Martinez said that to overcome years of underachievement by a country blessed with an abundance of talent it was critical to forge a deep sense of team spirit across the whole squad and to have strength in depth for the knockout campaign. "We don't want to lose, but we'll have learned a lot tonight".

If Japan or Senegal had finished top then the draw would have been even easier but Colombia are beatable and there's no guarantee England would have beaten Japan, admittedly a slight contradiction on the first half of this sentence.

"I hope we are going to get to the final - we have to".

Was the loss to Belgium a reality check for England?