Doubts Loom Over England after Belgium Defeat
England fell 0 – 1 to Belgium in the final group stage game of the 2018 World Cup on Thursday.
With both teams qualified, this game was something of a formality. However, anticipation before the game was high.
First place in the group was still up for grabs in a game between two of the tournament dark horses. On paper, it looked as if it would be an entertaining game between two teams whose strengths are attacking.
Although, we didn’t get to see Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku – Golden Boot Contenders, as both managers made several changes.
Want $250 to bet on the 2018 World Cup?
Alexander Arnold, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Danny Rose, Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy made their first World Cup appearances.
For Belgium, Thomas Vermaelen, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Nacer Chadli, Adnan Januzaj and Michy Batshuayi started the game.
It was clear that both managers were giving their reserve players a run out while saving their stars for later.
As a result, the game was attritional and largely lacking in quality. England had some promising moments, but lacked the final pass. A forward pairing of Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford had the pace to hurt Belgium, but they were rarely found.
While Hazard, Fellaini and Tielemans were bright for Belgium, they didn’t trouble the England defense enough.
It took a wonder goal from Adnan Januzaj to break the deadlock. After some neat footwork in the right corner of the box, he shot with his left foot.
The ball curled perfectly into the top corner, leaving England keeper Jordan Pickford with no chance.
Despite the relative meaninglessness of the game, the result gives cause to doubt England heading forward. England failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their group games. This is the first time this has happened in their 15 appearances in the World Cup.
When you look at who they played – Tunisia, Panama and a reserve Belgian team, it’s even more worrying. England have plenty of firepower going forward with Harry Kane, but could easily come unstuck against the Columbia attack on Tuesday.