We pick Marcus Rashford, Adnan Janzuaj and Vincent Kompany as the three players to keep an eye on in the match between England and Belgium at the FIFA World Cup.
England and Belgium are both safely through to the Round of 16 phase. But, there is the odd decision of who tops the group, which is left, after both the sides managed to navigate the threat posed by Tunisia and Panama. Group G’s top position though, might become a complex matter.
The two sides are level on points, on goal difference, goals scored and conceded, making it almost impossible to discern between the two in case they end playing out a draw on Thursday, with fair play the only other factor that can separate the two sides.
With England and Belgium likely to field a weaker eleven in order to provide opportunity to some other players while also trying out possible combinations before the crunch phase of the World Cup, the fixture is evenly poised. We pick three players who are likely to come into the starting lineup and will be looking to have their say on the pitch.
There are very few players in the England National Team that manage to capture the imagination and create such euphoria among the fans as Marcus Rashford. His trajectory has been astounding and his record in the big games has been pleasing to say the least.
Raheem Sterling has done well to partner Harry Kane upfront. But, if Rashford does manage to strike a chord with the Tottenham man against Belgium and produce an exhilarating performance, there is no reason why the Manchester United striker will not be hopeful of a place in the starting eleven come the Round of 16.
Rashford has played against the majority of the Belgian players that are expected to take the field and with Vincent Kompany not likely to be at 100% just yet, he could capitalise on the opportunity and use his pace to trouble the Manchester City star.
A Roberto Martinez choice that left many bewildered. Januzaj’s selection created much buzz, with many speculating that the player was not good enough or had not done enough to warrant a place in the 23-man squad. On Thursday, he can prove the doubters wrong while also carving a chance to have a better opportunity of featuring in the World Cup matches ahead.
Januzaj may have failed to capture the same kind of form he displayed at Manchester United under David Moyes. But, the player’s talent and potential has never been in doubt. Perhaps, this is why Martinez has put his faith behind the Real Sociedad winger.
It is time though, for the player to stamp his authority and lay bare his talent on the big stage.
Injuries and Kompany have become synonymous. The Manchester City man was unlucky to have succumbed to an injury days before the first World Cup match. But, he has recovered fitness and while he is not 100% just yet, a run out against England will serve him a whole lot of good.
Roberto Martinez has seen Dedryck Boyata put in two good performances at the back. But, the test that lies ahead in the Round of 16 and onwards, will be much sterner than what Tunisia and Panama provided. Also, experience is something that will play a dominant role when Belgium reach the latter stages of the competition.
And Martinez will want his cultured centre-back to be ready, fit and raring to go when the knockouts start. England’s stars will present an opportunity to test his fitness and Kompany will likely be judged on how he is able to go about his duty on Thursday.