Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Arsene Wenger will be pleased with Gareth Southgate's plans for Belgium clash

Arsene Wenger will be pleased with Gareth Southgate's plans for Belgium clash

Southgate believes Vardy's ability to hit teams on the counter-attack could be vital for England against better opposition and the Belgium clash gives him the ideal opportunity to prove that.

While both teams have already qualified for the knockout stages at Russian Federation 2018, they are playing to determine who they meet in the round of 16.

"But I think it's the same like Belgium they have a great attack and then the defence there might be some weakness". That would mean we top the group and then we can move forward. I would love my team to keep winning, keep winning, keep winning.

Argentina only booked their place in the knockouts in the dying embers of their final group game, against Nigeria, while European champions Portugal and 2010 winners Spain were far from convincing in Group A.

England is now leading the group, but only on the "fair play" tiebreaker, meaning Belgium could still win the group even if the match ends in a draw.

And Southgate said recent World Cup results have refocused England minds.

"We've not won a knockout game since 2006", he said. Families and friends of other squad players are traveling out for the Belgium game in the hope they will play.

"We're trying to develop a winning mentality and I can't imagine a situation where I stand in front of the group of players I've got and start talking to them about anything else", said the former under-21s coach. "Because if you look too far ahead you can get in trouble".

Southgate appears to be gesturing towards saying yes.

The fans certainly won't care, especially these set of fans - the Belgians who have seen their golden generation consistently underachieve, and the English who are perhaps the most tortured group of fans in world football.

"That is what attracts everybody to World Cup".

The group stage draws to a close on Thursday with one of its most eagerly anticipated games, the calendar serving up a delicious showdown between England and Belgium.

Both England's Harry Kane and Belgium's Romelu Lukaku are both leading the goal tally at the moment, with five and four respectively.

In addition, Southgate is likely to give a starting role to Marcus Rashford, instead of the rusty Raheem Sterling, and a sharp performance from the Manchester United striker against quality opposition could see him retain his place for the last-16 match.

This added individual wrinkle - along with the players' natural competitiveness - will certainly effect how both sides approach tomorrow's match.

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