Gareth Southgate defends resting England players for 'biggest game for a decade'

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

GOOGLEMAPSRussia map Kaliningrad is located between Poland and Lithuania

Southgate said he had had no preference about who his team would line up against in the last 16, even after Japan surprised by finishing second in Group H and will now face Belgium while England face Colombia.

Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesBelgium took a 1-0 victory over England to win Group G at the World Cup, but the win sets the Belgian side up for a much more hard path to the final.

England will carry high expectations into its match Tuesday against a talented Colombia team after essentially choosing that matchup by fielding a squad of reserves in its last group game against Belgium.

"We've got 20 outfield players who have now played in a World Cup".

"We came here with a big squad and everyone is fighting for their place".

"For me, it's going to be a brilliant game to be involved in".

It has been argued that by avoiding a possible quarterfinal tie against Brazil, England now have an easier route to a possible final appearance, but Alli rejected that idea, saying thinking too far ahead was "very unsafe".

Uruguay 3 Russian Federation 0
Coach Stanislav Cherchesov insists Russia's success at the World Cup is about much more than home-team advantage. Saudi Arabia finished the tournament in third place in group A, scoring three points.

Venables, who managed England at Euro 96 when Southgate was an important player for him, has already said that he does not understand why his former defender has put so much pressure on himself by changing his approach to the final Group G match.

"They've got some outstanding individuals, but I believe it's a game we can win". Gaeth Southgate made no true attempt to beat Belgium and top their group, meaning they find themselves in the easier side of the draw. But when you're a leader and a manager, you have to make decisions which are right for your group to achieve the primary objective. The Red Devils have won all three of their games in Russian Federation so far.

"Our key is a knockout game that we're hugely looking forward to". As it stands, we seem to be at one with the team. In global football, that's just nearly a desperate call to see a loose team with no understanding of what we're trying to do. Sanchez's primary focus will be stopping Harry Kane.

"It's one of the reasons why we've done what we did (against Belgium), to give ourselves the best possible opportunity of doing that".

If Switzerland fail to turn up, which is a real possibility given their previous record at this stage, we could see Sweden reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994.

But don't take that from us, take it from Paul Merson, who fully expects Gareth Southgate's men to make it to the last four of the World Cup in Russian Federation.

But a second-placed finish is seen as a more favourable route through the tournament, avoiding a potential quarter-final against five-time winners Brazil.

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