Germany exit shows anyone is vulnerable England manager Gareth Southgate

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28 June, 2018

England and Belgium face a World Cup conundrum ahead of Thursday's crunch in Kaliningrad - is it better to finish second rather than win Group G? It's not every time you go through after two games, so we're happy with that.

"If I go and headbutt Roberto in the last five minutes then you'll know that we're maybe taking a different approach to getting through", he chuckled.

A countdown clock towards Qatar at the National Football Centre at St George's Park has since been quietly mothballed, but there are reasons for optimism and belief within the English set-up that something good could be about to happen, with Southgate speaking of the great potential within his pool of eligible players when he announced his World Cup squad last month.

Reigning champions Germany labouring to an early exit and Argentina scraping second in Group D behind Croatia means the runners-up in England and Belgium's section could have a more comfortable run of games on paper.

With progress to the last-16 already assured, both sides are planning changes for Thursday's Kaliningrad encounter despite the match deciding the victor of Group G.

"He has always played in every single game but since the start of the competition, we have not seen him".

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Isco became Spain's 47th different goal scorer at World Cups, when the Real Madrid player equalised against Morocco . Entering the final matchday, both teams are +1, so whichever team's margin of victory is higher would win Group B.

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But with these exemptions expiring at the beginning of the month, nations have been hitting back at the U.S. In Europe, all the major markets fell, with the FTSE down 31 points (0.42%) and Germany's DAX down over 1%.

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Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up.

Harry Kane's hat trick spurred England to a 6-1 victory over Panama, securing the Three Lions' place in the round of 16.

Harry Kane (24), Raheem Sterling (23), John Stones (24), Dele Alli (22), Jesse Lingard (25), Marcus Rashford (20) and Eric Dier (24) should all still be around in Qatar, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (19) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (22) also emerging as stars of the future. We really hope it is.

Poland, Tunisia and Panama know their tournaments are over, but still have positions to sort out in their groups and, in Poland's case, could still play a major part in who qualifies for the last-16.

The group stage draws to a close on Thursday with one of its most eagerly anticipated games, the calendar serving up a delicious showdown between England and Belgium.

"We think that we need to keep winning football matches and we want to breed a mentality where everyone in our squad wants to constantly win", he told a pre-match news conference. Should England draw with Belgium and pick up fewer or the same number of yellow cards in the game, Gareth Southgate's men will win the group on the basis of Fair Play.


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