Why England and Belgium both want to lose tomorrow's Group G matchup

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Both Belgium and England's qualification from the group is done and dusted, but a first or second-placed finish is yet to be confirmed.

If England finish as group winners, they will take on the runner-up from Group H before facing the victor of Brazil v Mexico in the quarter-finals.

The World Cup knockout bracket has already begun to take shape, and it's clear that one side of the bracket is a much more challenging path to the final.

This half of the draw could see England line up against four of the top seven sides in the world according to the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings - and the Three Lions have lost to Brazil, Uruguay, Portugal, France and Argentina (England also beat Argentina in 2002) at major tournaments in the last 20 years.

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

England and Belgium in the next round will either face Senegal, Japan or Colombia, who will have sorted out their placings in Group H an hour before England kicks off.

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Japan: Advance with a draw.

The Senegalese are strong, fast and technically skilful - led by Liverpool striker Mane - but the English may feel more comfortable in a physical contest with the Africans.

Expect drama and entertainment aplenty after impressive displays from both teams so far.

Romelu Lukaku will likely miss Belgium's Group G decider against England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday due to an ankle injury. The last-16 ties start Saturday, with France taking on Argentina in Kazan and Uruguay facing Cristiano Ronaldo´s Portugal in Sochi.

Belgium's attack once again shines and in this one a bit more than England's, to win the group.

All these permutations set the intriguing scene for Friday morning's match with the two teams on six points each, eight goals for and two goals against.

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There has even been some talk that England might have an easier route at the World Cup if they lose in Kaliningrad. England now sits on top, with only one yellow card versus Belgium's three bookings. "There is a youth about them, an energy, a belief and a real desire".

But coach Gareth Southgate said his team are focused on winning, not on plotting a particular route through the knockout stages.

"He has shown his value to us already both before the tournament and now during the tournament".

So we may be watching a match with 21 players reluctant to win and one desperate to score.

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