England can use knowledge of teammates to advantage, says Eric Dier

England can use knowledge of teammates to advantage, says Eric Dier

England can use knowledge of teammates to advantage, says Eric Dier

Mission accomplished, I suppose.

Russia's no-show against Uruguay, the first decent side it faced, made clear it wasn't unexpected world beaters.

The subtext to all this was the extraordinary draw split for the knockout rounds, which has all of the heavyweights lining up on one side and a cluster of very beatable darkhorses on the other.

All the best first-half moments were falling Belgium's way, as Marouane Fellaini controlled a corner with his chest and blasted the ball goalwards, where Trent Alexander-Arnold was waiting to block it before it could reach the back of the net. "We want to win".

Martinez has hailed the pleasure his whole squad have been taking on the pitch and has worked to build a team spirit where clashes of egos bedevilled the Belgians under his predecessor Marc Wilmots at the last World Cup and at Euro 2016.

Southgate held his press conference yesterday afternoon, at the same time that news filtered through from Kazan that holders Germany had been dumped out of the tournament by South Korea. Those players now - disappointed now [because] they didn't play well - what a chance. "This World Cup is very unpredictable and you need to look at yourself and how strong you can be".

And he was disappointed that he could not help England get the point they needed to secure top spot in the group. But that might not turn out to be the desirable outcome since the victory diverted Belgium onto the tougher potential path to the final.

"Well, honestly, I am delighted, just in the manner of the performance", Martinez said. "That's what I did tonight".

Former England defender Martin Keown told BBC Sport: "I'd have him in the team because of the balance he has". He gets energised when he is alone and uses the time to mull things over.

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But by making the changes to his team and resting the likes of Harry Kane, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling, Southgate has made his bed and he now has to lie in it.

"Everybody knows the most important game is the knockout round".

England's Eric Dier and England manager Gareth Southgate during training.

He contradicted himself by essentially saying England is still growing ahead of a fixture in which it can't afford to be uncertain.

Those watching said they were disappointed with what they saw but refused to rule out England going far in the tournament, which they have not won since 1966 when it was held on home soil.

"If you start thinking about who you could get, making predictions can be a little bit hard". The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify and we have done that.There are players with yellow cards and I don't think it would be professional for us to put those players in a risk to miss the knockout phase.

In the other match in Group G, Tunisia notched their first win at a World Cup for 40 years, beating debutants Panama 2-1 to leave Russian Federation on a high.

The conversation surrounding Thursday night's group stage-ender was all wrong.

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