Believe it or not, that could have been a dress rehearsal for the World Cup final.
England’s performance in losing to Belgium may have been disjointed, but what did you expect from a side with eight changes from their six of the best against Panama?
Tournament football is all about where you finish, not whether you take the scenic route or the hardest one.
I’ll back England to beat Colombia in the last 16, and then where’s your money about football coming home?
But Gareth Southgate spoke before the game about momentum: Where’s the momentum in losing a game while making eight changes? Surely momentum would have been playing your best team and winning, not making wholesale changes and losing?
I would be gutted if I was Harry Kane – he was on a roll, five goals in two games, on course for the Golden Boot… and then he was left on the bench in the name of rotation.
The end goal, if you are a fantasist, is England lifting the World Cup. But surely it would help to achieve it if Kane could score more goals and emulate Gary Lineker by winning the prestigious award for leading goal-scorer.
Kane is probably the only world-class player in England’s side – so why leave him out?
England vs Belgium
Would Portugal have left out Ronaldo? Would Argentina have left out Messi? Would Brazil have left out Neymar?
The funny thing is that Adnan Januzaj’s brilliant winner could be the goal that wins England the World Cup if it opens up a more favourable route to the final… couldn’t it?
First stop is Moscow on Tuesday night.
Should England have played their strongest XI against Belgium?
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