Why England Might Be Better Off Losing Their Final Game

Posted June 30, 2018

England didn't pick up a single yellow card in the game, though Belgium's win negated the prematch hype around another round of 16 match decided by "fair play". I don't think we've played poorly at all tonight. We don't want to lose matches, but the primary objectives we wanted from the evening - we've got it... If you look back to the last World Cup, they did unbelievably well.

"No words!" chided the best-selling Bild daily, over a picture of a despondent-looking Toni Kroos. Perhaps it is a case of damned if he did and damned if he didn't in terms of the changes to his team, but by failing to avoid defeat, have England lost crucial momentum, and have they set themselves up for a fall? Southgate will have a fully fit squad from which to choose, including Dele Alli who has recovered from a thigh strain, and is likely to revert to the lineup that confronted Tunisia in their first game at the finals.

Rashford dipped a free kick over the crossbar and Fellaini's block flew past the upright as England chased an equaliser, but it was Belgium who came closest to a second as Pickford parried a long-range drive from substitute Dries Mertens late on.

"We know that depending on which players we pick in certain positions, we just have a different profile of threat".

Now that England have finished second in their group, they will take on José Pékerman's Colombian side without 2014's Golden Boot victor, James Rodriguez, who limped off against Senegal earlier today.

"Many debutants were desperate to be involved and that pleases me", he said.

"It's very important for us to protect and give every player the best possible programme to be in the best condition for the knockout games".

In fact Pitt-Brooke considered the farcical approach to the game from both teams as against the spirit this World Cup has been played in.

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. "For now, Japan is the only priority that we have".

"We had our chances but never took them".

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.

"That's football. If you don't take your chances, you can be at the mercy of a goal like that". I know in some quarters that will be criticised but I am entirely comfortable with that. "It wouldn't authentic for what we've been trying to build for the last two years". "The lads coming in demonstrated to me that if he [Southgate] wants to change things, if he's up against things as the competition goes on, he's not going to be able to count on the likes of Fabian Delph, Loftus-Cheek".

"All the big names will come back in for the next game and we'll have to do a lot better because Colombia have got some risky forwards".