Friday 20 July 2018

England's path in the World Cup knock-out phase looks more inviting after defeat against Belgium

KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 28: Marcus Rashford of England shoots wide during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 28: Marcus Rashford of England shoots wide during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

England lost 1-0 to Belgium on Thursday night to finish second in Group G, but the defeat means they are in what is perceived to be the weaker half of the draw heading into the knock-out stages.

Here, is a look at the Three Lions' potential route to the final, using the world rankings to determine opponents from the quarter-finals onwards.

v Colombia, last 16

Jose Pekerman's men topped Group H despite losing their opening game against Japan, and looked very impressive in a 3-0 win against Poland. James Rodriguez, the star of Colombia's run to the quarter-finals in 2014, will hope to be fit to face the Three Lions.

v Switzerland, quarter-finals

The world rankings suggest the Swiss would get the better of Sweden in the last 16, but England would certainly prefer this to an encounter with Brazil, which would have likely been their fate if they had managed to top Group G.

v Spain, semi-finals

The 2010 winners at their best can still pass teams off the pitch, but Portugal demonstrated their weaknesses and even Iran had them rattled. The rankings suggest Fernando Hierro's men could reach this stage by beating Russia and Croatia.

v Brazil, final

There's just no avoiding Brazil, the highest-ranked team left in the competition after Germany's exit. The South Americans would have to get past Mexico, Belgium and Portugal to get this far, but they have the pedigree to do it.

Here is the full line-up of games in the last-16 of the World Cup:

Saturday, June 30

France v Argentina (3pm, Kazan)

Uruguay v Portugal (7pm, Sochi)

Sunday, July 1

Russia v Spain (3pm, Moscow Luzhniki)

Croatia v Denmark (7pm, Nizhny Novgorod)

Monday, July 2

Brazil v Mexico (3pm, Samara)

Belgium v Japan (7pm, Rostov-on-Don)

Tuesday, July 3

Sweden v Switzerland (3pm, St Petersburg)

England v Colombia (7pm, Moscow Spartak)

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