Belgium in focus ahead of World Cup clash with England

Harry Kane's family watch him in a wig-wan tent decked out with England flags

"The reality is that we are qualified and in a tournament like the World Cup, you're only as good as the 23 players (in the squad)". It's all about growing as a team and you need a little bit of luck. He lost to Spain in his first game, a friendly, but is unbeaten since in 21 matches, winning 16.

It's no accident. The recruitment of Allan Russell, who keenly studies gridiron moves and describes himself as "the world's No. 1 striker-specific coach", has been attributed to Southgate's desire to make the most of set plays like in the National Football League and NBA.

Martinez also cast doubt on in-form striker Lukaku's participation after he picked up an ankle knock in Belgium's most recent match against Tunisia.

According to sports data company Gracenote, Southgate's men have a 24% chance of reaching the last four should they emerge as group winners, but a 35% chance should they finish second.

The risks of playing them are significant.

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Roberto Martinez's side inflicted England with their first defeat at the World Cup thanks to a superb effort from ex-Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj. Marcus Rashford is expected to take Raheem Sterling's place and Dele Alli is available again after training for the past two days. "They're hungry, but they're not where they want to be yet".

Southgate rested a cluster of players who had been involved in wins against Tunisia and Panama in England´s opening two games in Russian Federation, including star striker Harry Kane.

"I am here in Brussels in Belgium so of course I am going to be cheering for the home team", said Varadkar, whose country is pushing London to ensure that Brexit does not create a hard border with the British province of Northern Ireland. "Obviously I want to play, I want to perform". "We are in the fortunate position", Southgate said.

There's one more reason why the Belgians and English may not be desperate to roll out their big guns in Kaliningrad.

Regardless of who prevails on Thursday night, the winners and runners up of Group G will face the winners or runners up of Group H, which could be either be Japan, Colombia or Senegal. "If you go into it with a different mindset, (that) second's better.it doesn't end well in my previous experience".

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