England face Belgium with top spot at stake

Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku are in prolific form at the World Cup

In similar fashion to England, Belgium have made nine changes as boss Roberto Martinez looks to use the depth of his squad.

The top scorer the last time England made the semi-finals, Gary Lineker, said: "England haven't won a knockout game at a major tournament for 12 years and we are discussing playing to lose to avoid a more hard quarter-final".

The hosts followed that win up with a qualification-sealing 3-1 win versus Mohamed Salah's Egypt in a game in which many fancied the Liverpool man to single handedly destroy Russia's equally ageing and inexperienced backline.

On a stifling night in Bologna, Enzo Scifo hit the woodwork twice and John Barnes saw a goal chalked off (wrongly, as it happens) before the game eventually crept over into extra-time with the score still goalless. England were forced to battle for every blade of grass in that game, but came through with a win that helped ensure qualification with one game to spare.

England coach Gareth Southgate said on Wednesday (Jun 27) his team was concentrated on winning matches, not plotting a particular route through the World Cup knockout stage, ahead of their Group G showdown with Belgium. That would mean we top the group and then we can move forward.

Results elsewhere and the way the knockout draw has fallen so far have led to widespread suggestions the runner up out of England and Belgium would be in a better position to blaze a trail into the latter stages.

Pundits are split on whether England should try to win their final World Cup match against Belgium.

Senegal eliminated from World Cup over yellow cards
There's also a chance Ireland could qualify for the next World Cup and end up falling at the first hurdle too. All eyes will be on Senegal on Thursday afternoon, when they face high-flying Colombia .

Skipper Harry Kane, now the tournament's top scorer with five goals, has mentioned the pride of the players in each other and the belief in the dressing room.

Then again, Mexico could topple Brazil in the Round of 16.

"What I've discussed with the players is we must not waste any energy thinking whether it's better to be first or second in the group, who we might play in future rounds", said Southgate. The second match saw the Red Devils thrashing Tunisia 5-2 courtesy of a Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard brace.

More than 2,600 tickets have been sold through the Football Association alone after the turnout for the opening game was believed to be England's lowest at a World Cup for 30 years.

"World Cups are all about momentum", he said.

The BBC and ITV are splitting World Cup TV coverage here in the United Kingdom, and the England vs Belgium clash has gone to ITV.

This will be the fourth meeting of the two nations in major tournaments.

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