With one World Cup group game remaining, things couldn’t be going much better for the England team.
A last-gasp victory over Tunisia was followed up by a 6-1 win over Panama – England’s largest ever win in a World Cup finals tournament – and Gareth Southgate’s team are through to the knockout rounds with a game to spare.
Belgium are likely to offer a sterner test, but England are starting to look not only likeable but efficient and right now, even the ’two watch wearing’ Diego Maradona is impressed.
The 6-1 England v Panama scoreline has left the Three Lions level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Belgium, currently the teams are only separated by yellow cards.
Against Panama, England were in control almost from the get-go, opening up a 5-0 lead by half-time, that Maradona has credited to a “change of style” when explaining how the country he helped eliminate from the 1986 World Cup has been more impressive than his home nation, Argentina and their star man Lionel Messi.
“I don’t think [past problems] are technical, because they’re world champions at U17 and U20. That shows that they’re creating kids that England didn’t have in the past,” Maradona is quoted as saying by the Mirror.
“Sterling, Kane, Vardy, Stones and the like have given them another touch, it’s not about getting in the other half and putting the ball in the box, they want to play, to have the ball.”
England will play Belgium in Kaliningrad on Thursday at 7:00pm, with the winner topping the group and the loser finishing second.
If the match is drawn, the team with fewer yellow cards across its group games will finish first. As it currently stands England have currently received two yellow cards and no red cards after two games. Belgium on the other hand have received three yellow cards, and no reds - which would mean that the England are currently winning when it comes to ‘fair play.’
England are guaranteed to face one of Colombia, Japan and Senegal in the last 16, with that match taking place either on 2 July at 7:00pm or 3 July at the same time.