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England and Belgium battle for World Cup group top spot

06 Juillet 2018

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said Wednesday he didn't expect to use any of his players now with a yellow card against England.

Belgium face Group H victor Japan on Monday but a win there would mean a quarter-final against Brazil or Mexico.

And against Belgium, he was England's one shining light on a night anyone with even the faintest feeling of fondness for the sport of football would like to forget. His team will face Colombia on Tuesday in Moscow, followed by possible matchups against Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. He did, however, predict England would win the game.

Both Belgium and England have already qualified for the last 16, with the victor to top the group.

Adnan Januzaj has broken the deadlock when he curled a shot into far corner of Jordan Pickford's goal in the 51st minute to give Belgium a 1-0 lead over England in the World Cup Group G game.

If England finish second in their group, they would play Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup, which is harder than playing Japan, but it would mean an easier draw after that.

Belgium created the better openings in a poor first half while England showed greater urgency but a lack of finesse in the final third where they missed tournament top scorer Kane and the movement of Jesse Lingard, who both watched from the bench.

Site highlights each day to your inbox. "We're sorry we didn't play like world champions".

Not only that, the Colombians have pedigree after a run to the quarterfinal stage at the 2014 World Cup on the back of some stunning performances from their star man James Rodriguez.

The DR Congo worldwide posted a photo of Romelu Lukaku on the bench with his hand his his head alongside the caption: "S*** guys we weren't meant to do that".

England coach Southgate is unsure if winning is an advantage. "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".

Another Belgium player unlikely to start is Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals from two games.

"Either way you're going to have to play them so, if we play them early, that's how it's going to be."

Japan advanced to the knockout round at the World Cup on a tiebreaker, fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Gareth Southgate made 8 changes to the England squad that demolished Panama in their second group fixture while Roberto Martinez retained just Boyata and Courtois and changed the rest of the team. "I think the supporters know what the most important thing is", he added.

"I'm not really too disappointed we finished second because we can beat Colombia, they're probably the stronger side but after that you never know, get a bit of luck in the draw, a bit of luck on the pitch and you can change then".

England and Belgium battle for World Cup group top spot