Should England take it easy against Belgium? World Cup permutations explained

first_imgWhat happens to England in the knockout stages?If England win their group, they will play the second-placed team in Group H. If England are runners-up, they will play the winner. Japan, Senegal and Colombia are battling to qualify with Poland now out.So why could it be bad to win the group?The unpredictable nature of this World Cup means it may actually be better to finish second in Group G. As things stand, finishing second means avoiding Brazil or Germany in the quarter-finals. They sit first and second in their respective groups (E and F) and will meet in the last 16 should they remain in those places after the final round of group matches. If England win their group and then win their game in the last 16, they would then face the winner of that Brazil v Germany game. If England come second in their group and then win their last-16 game, they would then face the winner of the last-16 tie between the winner of Group F and runner-up in Group E, which, as things stand would be Mexico and Switzerland.A much easier game on paper then?Indeed, although it’s hard to say for sure. Mexico have been very impressive so far, beating Germany and South Korea, and could give England a very tough game, tactically as well as physically, should they meet. Switzerland have also been impressive, drawing with Brazil in their opening game before coming from behind to beat Serbia. It should also be remembered that Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland side are sixth in the world rankings. They’re no mugs. World Cup 2018 Read more Who is leading England’s group?England – by the narrowest of margins. They and Belgium are both through, have the same number of points, have the same goal difference and have scored the same number of goals. England are top solely by virtue of having received fewer yellow and red cards. Gareth Southgate’s side have received two yellow cards and no red cards, compared with Belgium’s three yellow cards and no red cards after two games. If England and Belgium draw on Thursday in Kaliningrad, this “fair play” rule will determine who stays top. Teams lose one “point” for a yellow card, three for an indirect red (two yellow cards in the same game to the same player) and four for a direct red card. If the teams are locked on fair play, too, Fifa will resort to the drawing of lots. Share on Twitter Share via Email Topics Share on Pinterest England into World Cup knockout stage as Kane hat-trick leads 6-1 Panama rout Southgate looks a man with a plan and Kane a true Golden Boot contender World Cupcenter_img Read more Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content So what should England do?For the sake of morale, momentum and fair play it would be better to win the group. Also, it’s still possible for Brazil and Germany to finish top of their respective groups and therefore avoid each other in the last 16, which in turn would ultimately make it worthwhile for England to finish top of their own group. It’s even also possible that Brazil could come second in their group and Germany top in theirs, which would line them up to face the runners-up in England’s group. England’s group, Group G, is the last to play its final games, so both England and Belgium will know the consequences of finishing first or second by the time they kick off. England Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Share on Facebook featureslast_img