England has advanced to the Round of 16 regardless of the result in their match against Belgium. However, the outcome will dictate who England and Belgium play in the next round. England will win the group with a victory against Belgium. They will advance as the group runner-up with a loss. A draw between the teams leads to a more complicated scenario. Here’s a look at the standings heading into the final day of group play.
Group G Standings
England and Belgium are tied atop the standings at six points. If England wins, they will win the group. An England loss means they advance as the Group G runner-up. A draw makes things more complicated as a series of tiebreakers would be activated. They are also tied in goal differential, the first tiebreaker, at +6. The next tiebreaker is total goals, and both squads have scored eight goals heading into their matchup. It then comes down to the head to head, but that would not matter in a draw.
If England ties Belgium, it would likely come down to the fair play tiebreaker as the teams are even in all other tiebreakers. Here’s an explanation of the fair play tiebreaker courtesy of FIFA.
Greatest number of points obtained in the fair play conduct of the teams based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches as follows:
yellow card (minus 1 point), indirect red card as a result of a second yellow card (minus three points), direct red card (minus four points), yellow card and direct red card (minus five points). Only one of the above deductions shall be applied to a player in a single match.
If England wins Group G they will face the Group H runner-up which will be Japan, Senegal or Colombia. If England advances as the runner-up, they will face the Group H winner, which will be one of the three teams mentioned above.
It will be interesting to see how each team approaches this match as it only impacts who the squads will play in the next round. Romelu Lukaku will not play against England as he recovers from an ankle injury. The Express reported England will rest Harry Kane in the match. With all the lineup changes, the real question is whether either team will “play to win.” England and Belgium have been two of the top offensive teams so far in the tournament. England manager Gareth Southgate insisted England is focused on winning the game, per BBC.
We think that we need to keep winning football matches and we want to breed a mentality that everybody in our squad consistently wants to win. We have no idea who, when or where we will play in the next round. We are pleased we are there in that next round but we are building a team that everybody at home can see has a passion to play for England and are improving and I think they will see that on Thursday.