England can use knowledge of teammates to advantage, says Eric Dier

29 June, 2018, 14:53 | Author: Eleanor Thompson
  • Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku are in prolific form at the World Cup

Dier has played six minutes for England at the World Cup in Russian Federation, but coach Gareth Southgate confirmed the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder will start against Belgium, with both teams having booked their places in the last 16.

As they prepare to play Belgium, what does the path to a possible final look like?

England and Belgium have already qualified from group G. Their clash will decide who finishes top and who finishes second.

The England captain has scored five goals in two games, including his hat-trick against Panama, and while his manager will be reluctant to leave him on the bench, his centrality to England's hopes is such that he may be wary of him picking up an injury. The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify and we have done that.There are players with yellow cards and I don't think it would be professional for us to put those players in a risk to miss the knockout phase. "I think the supporters know what the most important thing is", he added.

"We need to look at ourselves, we are a stronger group than we were before the game".

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"If you start thinking about who you could get, making predictions can be a little bit hard".

All these permutations set the intriguing scene for Friday morning's match with the two teams on six points each, eight goals for and two goals against.

"With Romelu Lukaku we had very good news on the scan". "You have seen big nations coming very close to elimination, or already eliminated".

Facing questions over whether he might have preferred to finish second - a draw or defeat would have had that effect - Martinez said: "Honestly, I am delighted".

England sat back and Belgium created little, with audible whistles from the crowd at half-time after a first half containing only 14 shots from both sides.

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After a scoreless first half, Belgium struck with the foot of Adnan Januzaj, who took a few nice dribbles in the box before blasting a curler past Jordan Pickford to give Belgium a 1-0 lead.

Former Manchester United midfielder Januzaj broke the deadlock with a superb curling effort in the 51st minute and the manner of the goal celebration should have silenced any fears that Martinez's side were not interested in victory.

With 15 minutes remaining, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made a decision to introduce Vincent Kompany for Thomas Vermaelen, while England threw on Danny Welbeck as they pushed for an equaliser.

Rashford squandered a glorious chance to level with an hour played, being denied by the fingertips of Thibaut Courtois - one of only two survivors for much-changed Belgium from their last outing - when played clean through on goal.

Both teams now sit on six points, with the same goal difference and amount of goals scored, meaning if the game finishes a draw, the standings will be decided on disciplinary points, of which England have less at this moment. Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to win.

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