No, after you: Why England and Belgium may want to be second

Defoe played with and against Southgate

Portugal had their talented group of Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Joao Pinto, Deco and co. but the closest they came to glory was losing the Euro 2004 final to Greece on home soil. Both will be vying for top spot in Group G as they lock horns in Kaliningrad.

Romelu Lukaku is a doubt for Belgium's crucial World Cup top-of-the-table clash with England, report Sky Sports.

That is, of course, not discounting Argentina's crop of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano who are arguably facing their last shot at the big one in Russian Federation.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent.

- Who is going through?

Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up.

Gareth Southgate was roughly five minutes into his press conference to preview England's match against Belgium when the news filtered through that Germany - football royalty, as far as the World Cup is concerned - had been dethroned and he was asked for his thoughts about a result that could probably encapsulate what is known as schadenfreude in the country that invented the term.

England and Belgium, already qualified from World Cup Group G, meet on Thursday in what Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini says could be a "strange match".

Is that you, former England coach, Sam Allardyce.

"It's different. If we'd been facing each other to qualify for the World Cup knock-out phase it would have been a lot more emotional", the Spaniard said.

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"We know what Felli is capable of", Jones said.

"Talking to them individually, they have loads they want to do in their careers". "I have complete trust in all the players".

Southgate, though, was adamant nothing other than three points against Belgium has been discussed, insisting his side are prepared for the prospect of facing more hard opponents, having beaten Panama and Tunisia so far in Russian Federation.

"That's the beauty of the age they're at". "Indirectly, they've had a big bearing on what we're doing now". "That's what really excites me".

Southgate dismissed talk that finishing as runners-up could be favourable, with the England manager looking to strike a balance between keeping key men fresh and squad players happy. Marcus Rashford is expected to take Raheem Sterling's place and Dele Alli is available again after training for the past two days.

Ultimately, though, the prospect of meeting Germany in the quarter-finals is no more.

Southgate, whose realism and refusal to encourage false hope, is perhaps the ideal man to navigate the course for England's emerging talent, admitting last month that expecting too much, too soon, would be foolish.

Wahbi Khazri: The Sunderland midfielder, who has spent the previous year on loan in Ligue 1 with Rennes, scored nine times for his adopted club in 2017/18, and set up one and scored another in Tunisia's 5-2 defeat to Belgium on Sunday. "So there is improvement we have to make". That's his decision, I guess, but obviously I want to play. "The team isn't far away from peaking, but they haven't had those experiences yet".

But is there an easier route through the knockout stages on offer to the team who finishes second?

Paul Mariner reveals his grades for England's starting XI vs. Panama and explains why they can't let up despite having already advanced.

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