Southgate's gamble piles pressure for Colombia clash

Russia map Where is Kaliningrad? Is it safe for England fans

EPARussia map Women sit next to the Triumphal column at the Victory square in Kaliningrad Russia

"The Belgian prime minister obviously felt he needed to get in quick from the first whistle", a senior United Kingdom government official said.

If they managed to advance to the semi-finals they would be facing a Tuesday, July 10 (7pm) fixture, the same evening that City are due to travel to League Two side Lincoln City for another friendly.

A last-16 clash against Colombia could be followed by a quarter-final against Sweden or Switzerland, with that prospect fuelling hope among England fans that their time may be about to come in a World Cup after some many heartbreaks down the years.

"I watched Colombia the other day and there's nothing to be scared of there for England".

"Fair play to Gareth with what he did against Belgium", he said in his World Cup predictions column.

"Whoever we play we believe we're capable of beating", Southgate said.

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Despite an unimpressive first half, Belgium beat Panama 3-0 in its 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G opener last week. Germany now face a decisive final tie with South Korea to seal their passage into the last 16.

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Introducing tournament topscorer Kane even as a substitute he claimed would have been "ridiculous" for fear the Tottenham striker could pick up an injury.

Victor plays second of the earlier group so there could be mind games in this last meaningful match of the groups.

Nearly by tradition, there was some World Cup diplomacy at the European Union summit. "That's hugely important for the feeling in our camp over the next few weeks", said Southgate.

"We know that any team that reaches the last 16 is good, we are talking about the best 16 teams in the world", he added.

But the stark contrast between thrashing Panama 6-1 and a tame defeat without the same energy, excitement or end product, only served to show Southgate's squad is not as deep as he would wish. A collection of sides sufficiently intimidating that in the first half, Roberto Martinez seemed not to want to win, his team counter-attacking with all the speed of a 1967 Volga negotiating the foothills of the Urals. "In playing terms, a deflating night did exactly the opposite", wrote Matt Dickinson in the Times.

The team's video analysts have already put together detailed dossiers and footage of Colombia to ensure players are as best prepared as possible.

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