English player Harry Kane
English player Harry Kane Reuters

Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Dele Alli – some of the key players who could very well be rested for this England vs Belgium encounter of the Fifa World Cup 2018.

With both sides already through to the last 16, this match is essentially a fight for the top place. However, considering finishing second might not be such a bad thing, expect both Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez to make a few changes to their starting XI for this Group G match in Kaliningrad.

What the two managers will need to figure out is what sort of team they can put out, without it affecting their side's flow and possibly quelling the momentum they have built up in this Fifa World Cup 2018.

Both Belgium and England have impressed in their first two games. While Belgium has scored eight goals in their opening two matches of the World Cup – a 3-0 victory over Panama and a 5-2 result against Tunisia – England have also managed to find the back of the net eight times in this tournament.

They first beat Tunisia 2-1, courtesy a late Kane goal – although it should have been a lot more emphatic, considering England dominated – before smashing six past Panama in their last match, with Kane finishing with a hat-trick.

Kane is at the top of the charts in the race for the Golden Boot, at the moment, with five goals, one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lukaku, and that need to stay ahead of the curve might mean Southgate naming his skipper from the start.

Both sides are locked together at the top, on points and goal difference, goals scored and goals conceded, with England only ahead of Belgium thanks to the Fifa fair play rule, wherein the team with fewer yellow and red cards have the advantage. So, that means, if this match ends in a draw, England will top Group G.

Team news:


Kane is expected to start up front, which would mean another second-half appearance for Jamie Vardy.

Dele Alli, who missed the win over Panama through injury, has trained this week, but Southgate might not want to risk the Tottenham playmaker. So, Ruben Loftus-Cheek could start another game, even if the midfielder is in danger of a suspension if he receives a yellow card against Belgium, with Fabian Delph the other option.

Alli's Tottenham team-mate Eric Dier is expected to make his first start at this Fifa World Cup 2018, with Jordan Henderson getting a deserved rest, while Gary Cahill might come in at the back, with Marcus Rashford expected to play alongside Kane, as Raheem Sterling gets a rest.


Kevin de Bruyne is on a yellow card, so Martinez is highly unlikely to take a risk and play the Manchester City man from the start. Eden Hazard said he wants to play this match against England, but, considering how important he is to Belgium's hopes of winning the World Cup, will Martinez name the Chelsea man in the starting XI?

There will be a change right up front, with Romelu Lukaku, struggling with a slight injury, set to rest up, while Michy Batshuayi looks to add to the one goal he scored against Tunisia.

Possible XI:

England: Jordan Pickford; Phil Jones, John Stones, Gary Cahill; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard, Danny Rose; Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane.

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld; Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Youri Tielemans; Thorgan Hazard, Eden Hazard; Michy Batshuayi.