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England and Belgium battle it out for top spot in their group on Thursday as the remaining teams at the World Cup digest Germany´s astonishing exit from the tournament in Russian Federation.

There have been suggestions that losing this game would have been more beneficial for the Three Lions in that they would dodge Brazil and have an easier pathway to the final.

But although Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez is talking about the match as a "celebration", where winning is less important that rotating his squad, for Belgian fans there is a hunger for revenge for 28 years of hurt since Italia '90.

Despite a huge scare for Lionel Messi´s Argentina, who needed a late goal from Marcos Rojo to edge through to the knockout phase on Tuesday, all of the tournament´s remaining big guns are through to the last 16 in Russian Federation.

Robert Martinez and Southgate made wholesale changes.

"We tried to take as much of an advantage as we could on a physical level".

Harry Kane's involvement is one of the tricky decisions facing Southgate.

"We have reached our goal, we have advanced to the knockout stage, and we're entering it with confidence in our abilities".

Topping Group "G" means playing whoever will have finished second in Group H earlier on Thursday - Colombia, Senegal or Japan. Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia have all been pushed to the limit in their groups, with only France having a similarly easy ride into the round of 16.

This will be the fourth meeting of the two nations in major tournaments.

Belgium´s 1-0 win means they top the group and will face Japan on Monday, with runners-up England securing a last-16 date with Colombia 24 hours later.

The downside came in the poor display from Eric Dier, whose pedestrian effort cemented Jordan Henderson's place as midfield anchorman while Phil Jones did nothing to suggest he would be a significant figure again.

"We know the areas we need to improve".

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).

Gareth Southgate, his England counterpart, insisted his side will play to win, adding it was "dangerous" to try to plot a favorable path through the knockout stages, where England have not won a game since 2006. For me, we're delighted to be in the next round.

Now, we seem to be faced with a similar dilemma with teams that play later can engineer their performance to chart their course.

The other group game is between Panama and Tunisia.

"Making predictions in the World Cup can be a little bit hard", Martinez said, insisting Belgium would concentrate on their meeting with Japan in Rostov-on-Don.


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