The Group G of the FIFA World Cup 2018 at long last finally summed up as The Red Devils took the top spot after beating England 1-0 in the England Vs Belgium clash to book a game with Japan in the Round of 16 knock-out stages. This was England’s first loss to Belgium since 1936.
The World Cup round of 16 CONFIRMED ??
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 28, 2018
With both England and Belgium having qualified for the knockout stages due to wins in their previous matches: England beat Tunisia 2-1 and thrashing Panama 6-1 while Belgium beat Panama 3-0 alongside winning 5-2 against Tunisia, the other group stage fixture of Panama Vs Tunisia was merely an obligation.
It was a game to remember as it saw both sides make the highest ever changes in total (17) in a World Cup fixture. Gareth Southgate made 8 changes to the England squad that hammered Panama 6-1 with Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez’s making 9 changes to the Belgium line-up that beat Tunisia 5-2.
As for England, a defeat in the England Vs Belgium match will be far more negative for the players and the momentum they have gained so far with their impressive run of form but it also sets a comparatively easier route for them in the knockout phases as they are likely to face Switzerland or Sweden in the quarter finals if they surpass Colombia in their Round Of 16 clash.
Here is Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi with one of the greatest moments in the history of the World Cup. pic.twitter.com/JlFuN7vI1k
— Birmingham Updates (@BhamUpdates) June 28, 2018
Here are some things we learned from the England vs Belgium game :
1. Belgium Re-Affirm Themselves Amongst The Tournament Favourites
Though both the teams showed little desire to win the group making 17 changes in total but Belgium did not fail to show that they are a team to fear by easing past Tunisia and Panama and also dispatching a win against The Three Lions in the England Vs Belgium match even after resting their key players.
Yup, Belgium beat England with their B-Team. #WorldCup
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) June 29, 2018
A strong team does not always promise a strong performance but Belgium did not fail to entertain so far as they now face Japan in the Round Of 16 and most likely, Brazil in the Quarter-Finals. With this of possibility, they will be required to be at their very best. England having played with Belgium in Group G cannot face them until the finals, if both the teams succeeds to do so.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 29, 2018
2. No Kane No Party
Gareth Southgate’s decision to sit out Harry Kane amongst the 8 changes he made for the England Vs Belgium match proved to be fatal for The Three Lions (or a blessing in disguise?) as the strike partnership between Manchester United’s golden boy Marcus Rashford and Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy lacked composure. It was evident how heavily they rely on their captain who has scored 5 of England’s 8 goals in this tournament to lead the race for the Golden Boot, one clear of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku.
Rashford with the miss of the tournament ??? pic.twitter.com/StYYPAvRbI
— Mutuku™ (@__Mutuku) June 28, 2018
Marcus Rashford showed he lacks a clinical edge when he missed the best chance of the England Vs Belgium game but he is still the strike partner to start alongside Harry Kane that the opposition would least like to face due to his incredible pace and skills.
Eric Dier said :
“We want to win every game and we’re disappointed we couldn’t do that today,I thought it was quite an even game. We created some good chances. We needed to finish one of them, that was all that was missing really.”
3. A Different Picture To The Knock-Outs
As some had argued earlier, finishing second poses an easier passage to Semi-Finals for England who will face the winner of Sweden vs Switzerland in the Quarter-Finals if they manage to get past Japan in the Round Of 16. This will be something to cheer about for the England fans who have high expectations from this golden generation of players.
England manager Gareth Southgate:
“I thought the game was a really good test for us. We knew the level was going to be higher than we’ve had even with teams making changes. Belgium had controlled possession in our back third and we found it tough to press, but in terms of chances, we were fairly even.
“I think we’ve learned a lot from the game. It will be a good game to go and review. The objective was a mid-term one. We’ve got everybody time on the pitch and they’re ready to come in, those that hadn’t previously played, and we’ve protected those who had.”
On the other hand Belgium face tougher opponents in the Round of 16 and are likely to face Brazil in the Quarter-Finals, something their fans will be worried about but with below par performances from Brazil so far, Belgium will have a golden opportunity to make it to the Semi-Finals.
— NICANORY MUHANDO (@nicmuhando) June 29, 2018
4. Januzaj Beats Rashford To The Occassion
With both managers having previously indicated that they will rest their key players and make many changes in the England Vs Belgium game, it was a chance to shine for the younger players but Marcus Rashford failed to make the headlines for good reasons with his miss which proved to be Emgland’s best chance of the game. He was lively for the rest of the game but lacked the end product.
On the other hand, Adnan Januzaj who impressed under David Moyes at Manchester United hit a low after his unsuccessful loan spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland but showed he has still got that spark with glimpses of underlying quality as he stole the show with a spectacular goal to seal the deal for Belgium.
Man Of The Match- Trent Alexander-Arnold (England)