Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

England, Belgium battle for top spot after Germany World Cup shock

England, Belgium battle for top spot after Germany World Cup shock

Speaking in his prematch news conference on Wednesday, Martinez said the results from the scans had been positive for the long term, but he fears Belgium's all-time top goal scorer might have to sit out the England encounter. No matter what I can say, actually getting the guys on the field is far more powerful than anything else.

"At the moment, he is still in the recovery phase and had a hard knock against Tunisia, but probably tomorrow is one day too early". A draw will take them into tiebreakers, where it could even go to fair play points (yellow cards, red cards) to decide who wins.

With the benefit of being the last teams to play in the group stage, both teams will have full knowledge of the knockout bracket by the time they kickoff at 6am - which may lead to the odd situation of both teams attempting to lose the match.

Leading up to the game, Belgium's manager Roberto Martinez said beating England is not a priority. "Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to".

"There are players with yellow cards, and I don't think it would be professional for us to put those players in a risk to miss the knockout phase".

Pressed on whether Kane would start against Belgium, Southgate told Talksport: "As a manager you have to think of the whole squad and then your second thought is for individuals and their own situations, and that is a really complex balance in any business where you are managing people". With qualification for the Round of 16 secure after the first back-to-back opening World Cup victories since 2006, it is not a must-win game, yet Gareth Southgate is a believer in competitive spirit and momentum, meaning that they will be out for victory.

But Southgate did concede he would probably make some changes for a clash that neither side needs to win. Well, that may well depend on where England finish in Group G, and as it stands that's all still to play for. The rest would be decided three hours before the whistle.

"But we have a hunger to keep improving and we're playing with a lot of confidence".

"I believe in every player in this squad so it would be quite stupid for me not to believe in these players tomorrow".

Southgate is aware that his captain wants to chase more goals and will not put up with a place on the bench, or waste any scoring opportunities.

While both teams have already qualified for the knockout stages at Russian Federation 2018, they are playing to determine who they meet in the round of 16.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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