Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld sets sights on victory against England

Lukaku De Bruyne

After racking up two wins and a goal difference of plus-six Belgium are virtually assured of advancing but it is not yet guaranteed - and they will be aware that they will need to tighten up at the back to handle the threat of the big guns deeper into the tournament.

But with Lukaku, now flourishing at Manchester United and knocking in 11 goals in eight appearances during Belgium's unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign, Martinez may have found the missing piece of the jigsaw. That defeat typified Belgium's lot, good players getting in their own way.

"I just want to get as far as I can with the team and if I can help my team by scoring as much as possible, that is all the better", said the striker, who cites the imposing Didier Drogba of Chelsea and Ivory Coast as a childhood role model. That means it could come down to the teams' disciplinary records and if that doesn't separate them, drawing lots.

Martinez said Lukaku and Hazard, who were withdrawn in the second half, and midfielder Dries Mertens had slight injuries and could be among a series of changes for the England game.

Captain Eden Hazard also bagged two goals before Michy Batshuayi added a fifth.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez gestures during the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2018.

Manchester City's De Bruyne is one of three Belgium players on a yellow, along with Thomas Meunier and Jan Verthongen.

The risks of playing them are significant.

Maintaining a winning momentum can be precious at the World Cup, the counter-argument that needs to be carefully considered by Martinez and England coach Gareth Southgate as they try to strike a balance.

Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. Even if they don't want to.

With England and Belgium already qualified for the knockout stage after winning their first two matches, Thursday's Group G game in the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad could be a time to give some tired or ailing stars a breather and underused squad members a run out. "Whatever decision he makes, it is his decision".

Lukaku's performance vs Tunisia however caught the eye of many for more than one reason.

The former Everton and Wigan manager acknowledged that he understood the importance of the fixture for his Premier League players on his squad, but said it would be unprofessional of him if key players missed out in the latter stages.

Whoever wins the group could possibly face defending champion Germany or Neymar and Brazil in the quarterfinals.

"Rest? I think footballers always want to play". "If you go into it with a different mindset, (that) second's better ... it doesn't end well in my previous experience".



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