Beating England not priority for Belgium boss Martinez

28 June, 2018, 15:55 | Author: Greg Lawrence
  • Jordan Pickford

England go into the Thursday's game in Kaliningrad having secured progression to the last-16 with a game to spare, four years after crashing out at the group stage in Brazil.

World champions Germany finished bottom of Group E following their 2-0 defeat against South Korea on Wednesday, ruling out the prospect of a potential quarterfinal clash with England in Kazan, while Argentina required an 86th minute victor against Nigeria on Tuesday to avoid being knocked out.

Germany lost 2-0 to South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, meaning the holders finished bottom of Group F. It is the first time since 1938 that a Germany or West Germany side has not progressed beyond the first section of the tournament.

And Southgate said recent World Cup results have refocused England minds. Sweden or Switzerland would await in the last eight with one of Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark standing between them and a place in the final.

Football can also be an individual sport, and one of the most prestigious individual honours in world football is the World Cup golden boot (the player with the most goals at the end of the tournament). That's not a route for a successful team.

"Italy and Holland were out of the World Cup before we got to this point".

"We need to keep winning football matches and we want to breed a mentality that everybody in our squad wants to constantly win", said the manager, who has created a relaxed atmosphere for his young charges.

"We've not won a knockout game since 2006", he said.

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Captain Harry Kane is the top goalscorer at the World Cup with five goals so far and the Tottenham talisman is likely to start against Belgium.

Southgate hinted that he would make some changes to his starting 11 but did not go into specifics.

Gareth Southgate is set to make wholesale changes to his England line-up to face Belgium on Thursday.

"My inherent nature is that I like people to feel included, and be part of what we're doing". That is the reality, we have put ourselves in this situation, we wanted to qualify and we have done that. "There are players who have been in very demanding games so its very important for us to protect and give every player the best opportunity to be in the best condition in the knockout games".

'It's so hard to make a prediction on the game given we don't know what the England or Belgium teams are going to be, but I don't see either side taking their foot off the gas.

They'll play the winners of group H - one of Japan, Senegal and Colombia - in Moscow on Tuesday, kick-off 7pm.

But Southgate refused to entertain such a thought.

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