- England and Belgium will meet Thursday in a World Cup match both teams surely hope to lose.
- The World Cup knockout bracket has already begun to take shape, and it’s clear that one side of the bracket involves a much tougher path to the final.
- The winner of Group G will be placed in what is setting up to be a “half of death.”
- England is leading the group, but only on the “fair play” tiebreaker, meaning Belgium could still win the group even if the match ends in a draw.
England and Belgium have already punched their tickets to the knockout round of the 2018 World Cup, but that doesn’t mean their matchup Thursday will be without consequence.
As it turns out, the outcome of the match stands to be highly beneficial – to the loser.
The groups at the World Cup send their top two teams to opposite sides of the knockout bracket, a process that usually makes for a fairly evenly stacked bracket. But thanks to several upsets and disappointing starts from known powerhouse countries, one side of the World Cup bracket looks overpowering, while the other so far suggests a friendlier path to the final.
The winner of Group G will go to 1G. That side includes four of the top seven teams in the world rankings and no team ranked lower than 15th. The second team will go to 2G, a side that has only one of the top nine teams in the world (No. 6 Switzerland) and three teams ranked 20th or lower, including No. 70 Russia.
Simply put, neither England nor Belgium should want to win this game.
England sits ahead of Belgium in the standings, but that could change even if the teams draw, as the teams have the same number of points and England is in first only because of the “fair play” tiebreaker, which scores teams based on yellow and red cards when goal differential and goals scored aren’t enough to determine a winner.
For that reason, don’t be surprised if you see a few extra fouls between the two sides on Thursday.
You can follow along with every match of the World Cup as the action happens here.
More World Cup coverage:
- The most mesmerising photos from the World Cup so far
- Lionel Messi made a subtle move before his clutch goal that had people marveling at his otherworldly skill
- Neymar drew a penalty with a ridiculous dive – but the World Cup’s new replay system overturned the call
- Lionel Messi is living through a waking nightmare, and it’s impossible to look away
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