England’s ‘third’ game at Russia World Cup 2018 verses ‘Belgium’ – glacial, so what has it told us?


History: Belgium can’t seem to beat England before  – well not in our twenty meetings over the past 80 years, eh?

In the post two days ago about this (unimportant?) match, it was suggested that England’s best bet was to play the ‘preferred’ team, wasn’t it?

Yep, but Gareth Southgate knew better, so nevertheless he decided on a policy of ‘rotation’ instead, so he made numerous unforced changes, instead of sticking with a stable line-up [whose defence is at times still suspect], that would have enabled it to settle-in against a top team (albeit one also making widespread alterations themselves (9 of them), to rest star players and protect others on yellow cards (including Lukaku vying with Kane for the ‘Golden Boot’ honour).

The manager’s decision seems to be driven by a desire to keep his second choice players ‘happy’, rather than focusing on preparing the ‘real’ team for the challenges ahead – that is not the wisest way to act in a major tournament, if the team is to use its strengths to progress as far as possible, is it?

If you want to win things like the World Cup, it is all about the cohesion of talent – as the German manager found out to his cost yesterday, when his team [Rank 1] and current Holders [beating Argentina in the 2014 Final], were humiliated in getting thrown-out of the competition early [the first time since 1938], by no-hopers South Korea [Rank 61], no less? [Germany were defeated 2-0 to end BOTTOM of Group F].

Southgate may well rue this day, and this surely simply demonstrated his lack of successful coalface management experience, wouldn’t you say? [Middlesbrough manager his ‘sole’ league management role (sacked following relegation after just 3 seasons of Premiership football– the last two years of those, his team was struggling & failing)].

The starting XI then: Pickford, Rose, Dier, Stones, Vardy, Cahill, Jones, Delph, Rashford, Loftus-Cheek, Alexander-Arnold [so first choices Stones, Maguire, Walker, Young, Lingard, Henderson, Trippier, Sterling, Ali, Kane, all rested, eh?]. All the selected are indeed good players, but they aren’t used to be playing together as a team, are they? NO, THE FIRST TEAM WERE ON THE BENCH.

As widely reported, neither team wanted to win this one really [and have Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, France, Uruguay, on the same side of the draw, eh?], but neither did they want to tempt fate and lose it, did they?

The result of this (pretty meaningless?) surreal game was England 0 Belgium 1 (as if it really matters?), which leaves Belgium as winner of Group G, so England (second) will now play Columbia in their first game in the knockout phase next Tuesday in Moscow [the FINAL game in the Round of Sixteen].

As feared, the match simply demonstrated that England’s second team was hopeless because it didn’t gell, don’t you think? The only one thing exciting about this game, or indeed worth commenting-on was Belgium scoring a stunning goal [Januzaj curling-in a left-footed shot in the second half].

The ‘real’ England team can relax and sleep tight – they’re safe, the second-sting haven’t challenged for their roles [commitment without effectiveness].

[If you believe that England ‘really’ ever had momentum before, they certainly don’t have it now – Gareth Southgate needlessly blew that tonight]


Rank                              Player                            Goals

1                            Harry Kane                              5


2                         Cristiano Ronaldo                      4


3                          Romelu Lukaku                         4


4                           Denis Cheryshev

                                    Russia                                 3

5                              Diego Costa

                                      Spain                                 3

World Cup Finals’ progression

Round of Sixteen    

France vs Argentina, Uruguay vs Portugal, Spain vs Russia, Croatia vs Denmark, Brazil vs Mexico, Belgium vs Japan, Sweden vs Switzerland, Columbia vs England.           All winning 8 teams to progress

Quarter Finals          Winner France vs Argentina v. Winner Uruguay vs Portugal = A

Winner Spain vs Russia v. Winner Croatia vs Denmark = B

Winner Brazil vs Mexico v. Winner Belgium vs Japan = C

Winner Sweden vs Switzerland v. Winner Columbia vs England = D

The winning 4 teams to progress

Semi Finals               Winner A v. Winner C

Winner B v. Winner D

The winning 2 teams to progress

Final                              15th July






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