England Must Maintain Momentum and Play for the Win Against Belgium
Any talk of England taking their foot off the gas in order to secure an easier route through the knockout stages of the World Cup should be tossed into the rubbish bin.
After two wins from two games and with Germany on the way home and Argentina scraping into the knockout stage, this is a World Cup that is not following any pre-written scripts.
As such, talk of preferred routes is nonsense. England came into the World Cup with little to recommend them, but they have built some momentum with wins over Tunisia and Panama and sit narrowly ahead of Belgium at the head of Group G.
The first true test of their credentials comes on Thursday against Belgium in what is a straight fight for top spot, so to take the foot off the gas in order to avoid being in the same half of the draw as the likes of Brazil, France and Argentina makes no sense.
Finishing second in the group would put England in the other half of the draw, with the likes of Spain and Croatia.
Tunisia and Panama are weak teams by international standards, so it would be unwise to write too much into those wins – but they were achieved by playing good attacking football and sticking to their gameplan.
To ask the players to rip up all the hard work and take their foot off the gas would be foolish in the extreme. England are not good enough to turn the tap on and off at will.
Belgium are ranked third in the world and boast world-class talents such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens – to name but three. An impressive win over Roberto Martinez’s side would do England far more good than a narrow loss.
England have repeatedly disappointed on the international stage, but they should always enter tournaments with the aim of lifting the trophy. If Gareth Southgate and his players believe that is possible, then they will have to beat whoever is put in front of them – whether that be in the last-16, quarter finals, semi-finals or final.
Attempting to dodge bullets for an easier route is a sign of a weakness so England and Belgium, who this also rings true for, should go out in Kaliningrad with the aim of winning the game and sending out a message to all the other sides in the tournament.
188BET have England priced at 2.63 for the win, with Belgium at 3.20 and the draw 2.94.
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