With Belgium and England through to the next stage of the World Cup, there are few worries ahead of their dead rubber game on Thursday. The only concern for the managers would be which players to give opportunities and which to rest ahead of the knockout stages.
Japan and Senegal have equal four points each from two games. However, Japan play Poland who are yet to get a point and are out of the tournament. There, the Asians are expected to see them off in the earlier fixture on Thursday or at least get a draw that would be enough.
Senegal face the renewed Columbia side, who played fantastic football on Sunday, defeating Poland 3-0. They are expected to ride on that wave to beat Senegal. The results of these fixtures should influence England in how they risk their players against Belgium. Coach Roberto Martinez has been shouting how he could rest up to nine, ten players in the England game due to fitness concern. Well if ahead of the game, England confirm Columbia topped the group, then the three substitutes can go to players yet to get playing time in Russia so far.
To be world champions, England should be ready to beat any team. However, the World Cup has brought a lot of surprises and it is important to be strategic in team planning. England top the group already due to fair play rules as they share the same points, goal difference and same number of goals with Belgium. They should forsake pride and get the ‘best opponents’ on their way to the quarter finals where the tournament would really begin for them!
The usuals like Harry Kane, John Stones and co can start but others like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Eric Dier, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck should get their opportunity now as the latter stages should be hard to consider them when the first team is hopefully full blazing.