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Maguire defends 'brave' Southgate over England squad rotation against Belgium

03 July 2018
Maguire defends 'brave' Southgate over England squad rotation against Belgium

England battle it out with Belgium for the top spot in Group G in Kaliningrad on Thursday with both nations having already qualified for the knocked out stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.

"He said "look, I know everyone says I want the Golden Boot - of course it's something I want to do - but the main thing is getting the team through the first knockout".

Undoubtedly, Colombia are harder last 16 opponents than Japan, who Belgium now play in their knockout stage game. "Sometimes those decisions will be criticized. but you have to think about the bigger picture".

SARANSK, Russia - Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri set up a second-half goal and then scored one of his own to help his side secure its first victory in a World Cup in four decades.

Both teams had advanced to the round of 16 before the match.

Tunisia trailed 1-0 at halftime in the final Group G match in Saransk despite having the better of play. Eastern in Moscow. According to Bet 365, England is favored at 13/10, while Colombia is an underdog with 23/10 odds.

"We have not won a knockout game at a World Cup since 2006, why we would want to plan which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me", Southgate told reporters.

Only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Dedryck Boyata keep their spots in the team.

The disappointment of England's 1-0 loss soon subsided for some supporters in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Thursday night as they returned to the bar in the centre of the city and sang songs into the early hours. However, the fact remains that they have progressed to the next stage of the competition which is exactly what the nation demanded following recent tournament disappointments. While striker Radamel Falcao may have underwhelmed in the Premier League, he has demonstrated his potency elsewhere, and the same can be said of winger Juan Cuadrado.

However, the latter limped out of their last group game against Senegal after just 30 minutes.

Gareth Southgate's decision to rest a number of his star players against Belgium, including the likes of Harry Kane, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling could be a shrewd one. That will surely give England the advantage.

Martinez has hailed the pleasure his whole squad have been taking on the pitch and has worked to build a team spirit where clashes of egos bedevilled the Belgians under his predecessor Marc Wilmots at the last World Cup and at Euro 2016. It could prove to be an advantage.

England will carry high expectations into its match Tuesday against a talented Colombia team after essentially choosing that matchup by fielding a squad of reserves in its last group game against Belgium.

The Japanese lost to Poland in their final group match, but they still reached the round of 16 because Colombia beat Senegal 1-0.

In Kaliningrad has completed the final round of group G between England and Belgium.