Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Southgate: Germany's exit has no bearing on England


With progress to the last-16 already assured, both sides are planning changes for Thursday's Kaliningrad encounter despite the match deciding the victor of Group G.

Results elsewhere and the way the knockout draw has fallen so far have led to widespread suggestions the runner up out of England and Belgium would be in a better position to blaze a trail into the latter stages.

If the game ends in a draw, fair-play points will decide Group G's victor.

However, with passage to the round of 16 alongside Belgium already guaranteed, Southgate has to decide what changes to make to his XI in an effort to rest some player and give others from the bench a chance.

The knockout bracket of the World Cup is set with groups sending their top two teams to opposite sides, a process usually makes for a fairly evenly stacked bracket. If that is tied, then the victor will be decided by a coin toss.

"But to be involved in a World Cup is something you work all your life for".

In reality, finishing second leaves the Three Lions with a more favourable draw, but it seems ridiculous to even consider the possibility of a deliberate defeat against Belgium for the sake of a different route to the final.

Contrastingly, if they finish as runners-up, England would face either Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-finals, and then one of Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark in the semi-finals.

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Players who accrue another caution before the quarter-finals will serve a one-game suspension.

"I've got to think through all of those things: competition for places, players who need match minutes, and keeping the unity of the squad", said the England manager.

Group G as it standsWhat if England win? I would love my team to keep winning, keep winning, keep winning.

Southgate dismissed suggestions that his players would deliberately get themselves booked, although did quip that if he headbutted Roberto Martinez in the final five minutes, he had changed his mind. "We have to keep building that belief and building those experiences".

"We have no idea who, when or where we will play in the next round, but we are pleased we are in it".

'We want to win every game of football we go into.

Frivolous yellow cards aside, both teams have acknowledged that maintaining momentum is paramount and any suggestion to the contrary is foolish. "That would mean we top the group and we would go into whatever game we go into moving forward".

Historically, planning too far ahead has been a very unsafe game and many teams over the years have tripped up when resting players or taking the foot off the pedal to prepare for later matches.

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