Gary Neville makes bold England World Cup claim
- Author: Rosalie Stanley Jun 30, 2018,
Jun 30, 2018, 0:38
Gareth Southgate made tactical tweaks after Januzaj's goal but it came too late, the Three Lions started meekly and ended the game meekly.
There are rewards and downsides for finishing first or second.
With a combined 17 changes - eight for England, nine Belgium - the game played out as expected; kind of awkwardly.
It was in the second round then when one David Platt, a late midfield substitute who went on to have a modest career as coach and pundit, etched his name into Belgian footballing history by hitting a sensational victor at the very end of extra time.
"We want to win the game, that would mean we would top the group, and we play who we play in the next round", Southgate added.
"Everybody knows the most important game is the knockout round". I know in some quarters that will be criticised but I am entirely comfortable with that. In 1990 we played against Cameroon and they almost shocked us.
"We can only regret the chances we didn't take".
All three points eventually went to Belgium who now face Japan, before potentially facing Brazil in the quarter-finals not to mention playing either Uruguay, Portugal, Argentina or France in the semi-finals.
"Well played lads!", the Sun newspaper declared as on its front page as it congratulated the players for securing an "easier route to World Cup glory".
"It's a painful memory but I think now is the right moment to avenge that generation", Michel Preud'homme, the keeper that day, told public broadcaster RTBF as a new "golden generation" of Belgian talent eyes the country's first ever major trophy.
"I saw a group of players desperate to contribute and I think, in the World Cup, you can't be successful by hoping you get an easy path".
Not only that, the Colombians have pedigree after a run to the quarterfinal stage at the 2014 World Cup on the back of some stunning performances from their star man James Rodriguez.
It would have been even sweeter for England had Japan stuck to the script and won their last group game against Poland and topped their group.
"It will be hard", he said. "I would keep him in the side - that would be tough on Ashley Young but you need that left-footed player in the team". All that group was up in the air.
It's not the end of the World Cup journey, though, as we finished as runner-up in the group stages, and are through to the knockout stages.
"His priority, like ours, is the team and he recognised what we were trying to do". The only thing yet to be decided is who will progress as group victor.
"That´s the reality. We wanted to qualify, we´ve done that".
Both teams had advanced to the round of 16 before the match.
"Whatever happens next week that was the right decision as far as I'm concerned".
"We want to win football matches, so we're not happy to come away from here having been beaten".
Southgate's plan certainly is a gamble.