Marcus Rashford praises Thibaut Courtois after his miss in England vs Belgium

When Belgium and England play in the last 16 their lineups will bear little resemblance to those fielded on Thursday.

When the England squad got out of bed today they had no idea if they will be playing Japan, Senegal or Colombia next week, but they will know their potential opponents when they kick-off in Kaliningrad at 7pm (UK time). Except, as both countries had made abundantly clear throughout the week, neither wanted to come out on top.

Since winning the World Cup in 1966, England have won just SIX games in knockout global football.

Perhaps the most telling moment was the reaction from the two coaches when Belgium's Adnan Januzaj scored what turned out to be the victor, with The Independent's Jack Pitt-Brooke summing it up brilliantly: "And on Thursday night, here in St Petersburg, the greatest drama was the two Belgian bookings in the first-half, and the brief wait to see the facial expressions of Roberto Martinez and the Belgian bench when Januzaj scored the only goal of the game", Pitt Brooke wrote.

The crowd entertained itself on half an hour with a Mexican Wave and there were boos heard as England worked the ball back to goalkeeper Pickford. "Belgium coast through and win tournament".

In fact, it could turn out to be something of a curse. With the Fair Play tie-breaker in mind, it was not a thriller in Kaliningrad until Adnan Januzaj made a decision to spice things up a bit. Meanwhile, England, if it beats a James Rodriguez-less Colombia side (which it should), will get the victor of Sweden-Switzerland. "Every team who has got to the round of 16 has deserved to, so there are no easy games that we can see ahead of us". We want to perform well but the priority is not to win. "But the goal felt slightly out of place here, in a match neither team was trying too hard to win". If Cahill gets a chance to play tonight then he will face a herculean task of keeping colleague Hazard quiet.


Marcus Rashford missed a chance to equalise for England against Belgium.

In what was a boring affair as both sides looked like they were playing for a draw, Januzaj opened the scoring after 50 minutes having beaten Danny Rose with a bit of skill before curling the ball past Jordan Pickford. "But we are in the round of 16, out the group stages, which was the first objective for the team". Just don't expect a classic. Players need to have energy in the tank to win a World Cup, and Southgate is banking on his squad being fitter and fresher after being rested in Kaliningrad. The Uruguayans have the better side, but Portugal has the better player in Cristiano Ronaldo, which might be the only edge it needs.

Martinez has suggested he could make wholesale changes to his side but at the very least is expected to rest defender Jan Vertonghen, winger Thomas Meunier and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who have all picked up a yellow card.

How both sides approach the match will be a good indicator of their respective philosophies and team culture.

Southgate held his press conference yesterday afternoon, at the same time that news filtered through from Kazan that holders Germany had been dumped out of the tournament by South Korea. Unless Denmark's talisman, Christian Eriksen, can produce something special on Sunday, it seems unlikely that his side has what it takes to stop it.


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