Why England Might Want To Lose Their World Cup Game Against Belgium
28 June 2018, 14:27 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53
Pundits are split on whether England should try to win their final World Cup match against Belgium.
Both teams have already qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition following wins in their first two games in Group G.
And a glance at your World Cup wallchart will show that an easier route to the final lies for the team that comes second in Group G rather than first.
Here's the full details:
If England Win And Top Group G
Last 16: v Japan, Senegal or Colombia (whoever finishes second in Group H)
Quarter final: Winner of Brazil v Mexico
Semi final: France, Argentina, Uruguay or Portugal
If England Lose And Come Second In Group G
Last 16: v Japan, Senegal or Colombia (whoever finishes top of Group H)
Quarter final: Winner of Switzerland v Sweden
Semi final: Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark
If England v Belgium Is A Draw
The two teams have the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded, so the only way to separate the teams is on Fair Play - who has the fewest red and yellow cards. Currently, Belgium have three bookings to England's two.
If the teams are level on bookings as well, they will draw lots to decide who comes top.
Many pundits think that England will be in a better position if they lose today and avoid a quarter-final clash with Brazil.
But others insist that the momentum of winning is important and England need not fear any other teams in the World Cup.
The top scorer the last time England made the semi-finals, Gary Lineker, said: "England haven’t won a knockout game at a major tournament for 12 years and we are discussing playing to lose to avoid a more difficult quarter-final. Do me a favour."
Don't expect a cracker. David Stevens from Coral Bookmakers told LBC his tip is a scoreless draw.
Football teams trying to lose is rare, but not unheard of. See the thread below for examples of deliberate defeats and own goals.
1. Seeing England and Belgium will have easier knock-out games if they come second in the group, it’s in both teams’ interest to lose on Thursday. Here follows a thread of my favourite thing in football - teams losing on purpose.— Adrian Sherling (@sherls) June 24, 2018