England v Belgium nicely poised

England’s showdown with Belgium now looks a lot less daunting

Yesterday Belgium put down a rather large marker to England with their 5-2 thumping of Tunisia. It was a performance full of vim and swagger as the tournament dark horses impressively clicked in to gear.

England needed to respond against Panama and respond they did. An emphatic 6-1 win against the Central Americans was a huge show of strength.

Southgate’s men were quick, sharp and confident as they delivered England’s biggest win in tournament football.

It’s a win and performance which should inspire the players with plenty of confidence as they gear up to face Belgium.

Goals and confidence

That’s now eight goals in two games for Belgium and England. The match on Thursday night is now perfectly poised. It will be both teams biggest challenge so far and both sets of players will be feeling confident of winning.

Belgium’s performance against Panama was far from vintage but even in second gear they scored three times. England on the other hand laboured in the match against Tunisia. Ultimately it took a lot of huffing and puffing to move the North Africans out of the way.

Belgium now seem to have found a way to get Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne firing on all cylinders. The centre forward now has four goals whilst Hazard and De Bruyne look threatening every time they get on the ball.

On the other hand, England blew Panama away with a sensational performance as Lingard, Kane, Henderson and Loftus-cheek all impressed. Southgate has got his team playing with a punchy pace, moving and flowing in the final third.

Work in progress

Both nations have arguably been the only sides to have truly impressed thus far.

You can only beat was is put in front of you but there is sense that something is being set down by England.

Neither of the two sides are likely to win the World Cup but have the capacity and quality to score and entertain. England’s young squad are genuinely building towards being genuine contenders for a tournament win at some point. Southgate too deserves credit for the way in which England are trying to play.

It’s a breath of fresh air for England fans to see such a positive approach with such quality young players. Long may it continue.

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