Talking Points: Is Belgium's bench strength unparalleled in the World Cup?
Written by: K.Koushik Venkatesh
The Red Devils made several changes to their starting lineup but managed to produce a convincing performance.
The win for Belgium meant that they would now face Japan in the Round of 16, while England will take on a strong Colombian side. The win saw Belgium pick up the top spot in Group H with nine points and England remained in second position with six points.
Here are the five talking points from the match:
Watch: England 0-1 Belgium highlights
1. England’s backup strikers are just not good enough
England and Belgium made a number of changes to their previous starting XIs. This meant that the second-choice players would have a go in the final group stage fixture. Gareth Southgate fielded his backup strikers in Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy.
However, the duo were absolutely devoid of ideas up top and were just chasing the ball for large parts of the game. Both the players managed to muster just one shot on target.
2. Fellaini is a monstrous midfielder on his day
The Manchester United midfielder was an unstoppable force playing down the left flank and the middle for Belgium. Fellaini seemed to be all over the pitch as he broke up a lot of counter-attacks and started a lot of moves for the Red Devils.
His game was wonderful throughout and his defensive contributions proved to be very helpful for Belgium.
3. Every cloud has a silver lining
With England having taken second spot in the group and with the kind of teams that they would be facing in the coming games, the Thjree Lions should progress deep into the tournament.
Should England beat Colombia, they will face either Sweden or Switzerland in the quarterfinals.
4. Trent Alexander-Arnold, a right-back for the ages
The 19-year-old Liverpool defender started down the right-hand side for England as the wing-back in this fixture. The youngster had an absolutely wonderful game against the Belgians and the first half saw him amass some of the best figures amongst the England side.
Alexander-Arnold had the most touches; most chances created and most crosses at the end of the first half. He was taken off at the 80-minute mark for Danny Welbeck, but till he was on the pitch, he was one of the better English players.
5. Belgium’s bench strength is unparalleled
This game was about Roberto Martinez giving his substitutes some game-time ahead of the knockout stages of the tournament and Belgium’s bench is one of the strongest this World Cup has seen.
The likes of Michy Batshuayi, Thorgan Hazard, and Youri Tielemans have a lot of potential and firepower in them to come off the bench and change the face of the game. The fact that Belgium are able to field an alternate XI as strong as their main XI, shows how they are serious contenders to win the coveted prize.
Published: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:10 AM IST