After a long and boring game, Belgium won the group final against England with 1-0. A tactical loss on England’s side perhaps, since the three lions now won’t have to face Brazil in an eventual quarter final. Instead, the easier side of the finals awaits – starting with the round of 16 against Colombia.
FIFA has made a change to play the two final matches in each group at the same time, in order to not make teams able to play for desired results. Although the thought behind it is good, it didn’t quite work out in the group final of Group G. The winner of the group would get to play against Japan in the round of 16 – not the most intimidating opponents. But in the quarter- and semi finals, teams such as Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, France and Uruguay awaits.
Easier opponents were found on the other side of the playoff tree – making the second place of the group more desireable. This was clear in the final group match between England and Belgium – with two teams not wanting to win.
Belgium to score early in the second half
The first half of the match between England and Belgium was nothing other than a big yawn. None of the teams created any big chances, and the crowd was clearly upset at half-time – booing as the players walked off the field. Belgium came in a lot stronger in the second half, scoring a goal after no more than five minutes. It was however clear that England had no intentions of trying to even out the score, or let alone win.
Smart tactical loss or stupid mistake?
The fact that Gareth Soutgate purpously let England lose against Belgium raised a question among fans – was it a smart tactical move, or was it a stupid mistake? England will now have to face Colombia in the round of 16, instead of Japan who is a much easier opponent to take on. Sure, the possible teams to face in the quarter- and semi finals aren’t as highly ranked as on the other side of the playoff tree – but what is it to say that England even makes it that far?
Some people think it was a brilliant move not having to face Brazil in the quarter final. But since Colombia won their group in a convincing manner – this match in the round of 16 surely will not be a walk in the park. If Southgate’s choice to deliberately lose against Belgium was smart or idiotic will be decided on Tuestay July 3rd, when England faces Colombia in the round of 16.
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