Sports Football 28 Jun 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018: ...

FIFA World Cup 2018: England, Belgium may rest top players in group finale

AP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jun 28, 2018, 12:21 pm IST
Updated Jun 28, 2018, 12:21 pm IST
England and Belgium have identical records and goal tallies heading into their group decider, so a draw in Kaliningrad would mean tiebreaker rules would determine the group winner. (Photo: AFP)
 England and Belgium have identical records and goal tallies heading into their group decider, so a draw in Kaliningrad would mean tiebreaker rules would determine the group winner. (Photo: AFP)

Moscow: Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku have starred in this year's World Cup, and neither may see much playing time when England and Belgium play Thursday.

Both teams have already advanced to the round of 16, and the match in Kaliningrad will only determine the Group G finishing order. The low stakes have created speculation as to how England and Belgium will use their players, and if finishing first or second in the group would be more advantageous.

The winners and runners-up will end up on different sides of the draw following the match.

Kane is the leading scorer at the World Cup with five goals, including a hat trick against Panama. Kane became the third Englishman after Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker to score a hat trick in a World Cup match.

"He's sitting really proudly at the top. He's gone ahead of some major, major names in English football history in terms of World Cup goals," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "That should make him incredibly proud, but he also knows the team is the most important thing and we have to make decisions that are right for the team."

Lukaku has scored four goals from four shots on target for Belgium. But he did not train with the team earlier this week and will likely be rested. Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens are all nursing injuries after Belgium's 5-2 victory over Tunisia.

England and Belgium have identical records and goal tallies heading into their group decider, so a draw in Kaliningrad would mean tiebreaker rules would determine the group winner.

Southgate insisted his team will not try to lose to get an easier match in the knockout round.

"For our country, that would be a very difficult mindset to have," Southgate said. "We want to win every game of football we go into. I don't know how we would go into a game not wanting to win and not wanting to play well."

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