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After all the fuss about whether or not the team should play to lose to secure an easier run through to the final, lots of people on Twitter fear that the Three Lions will lose to Colombia on Tuesday anyway.
Despite assuring fans that he wanted to win the group, Gareth Southgate made eight changes to the side that won 6-1 against Panama last weekend, and suffered the consequences – losing 1-0 to a curling effort from Adnan Januzaj, who made his first start at the tournament in a significantly weakened Belgian 11 who will now play Japan in the next round, while England face Colombia.
The result means that Southgate’s squad will avoid a quarter final tie with Brazil – if they make it that far, that is. Some fans aren’t so hopeful…
“Imagine making 8 changes & purposefully getting 2nd place in the group and getting knocked out by Colombia in the first knockout stage,” user @HODL_til_2140 wrote. “It’s coming home to ‘we are coming home'”.
“England can now avoid Brazil by getting knocked out by Colombia,” Adrian Lui tweeted.
Check out several slight variations on that theme below.
— Martyn Hunter (@Martyn_Hunter) June 28, 2018
— Alan Scanlon (@AlanScanlon) June 28, 2018
England is going to regret this and get absolutely destroyed by Colombia #ENGBEL
— MC TYGA SENSEI (@Srihar_N14) June 28, 2018
Very good chance that England will lose to Colombia. Then, after all this hype, we’ll realise we just won in the last minute against Tunisia and beat Panama (ranked 55th in the world) #ENGBEL pic.twitter.com/JOGi3ax4Li
— Paul (@Masterfezza) June 28, 2018
England guide to World Cup 2018:
1. Go in with no expectations.
2. Beat two poor teams to top group.
3. Be so arrogant as to want to finish 2nd to have “easier route to the final”.
4. Lose to Colombia on penalties in Round of 16.
5. Go home, sack manager, start again. #ENGBEL
— Dr Matt Lawson (@DrMattWLawson) June 28, 2018
Not sure playing Colombia is the best choice. Have won their last two games & only lost their opener to Japan 2-1, after having a player sent off in the 3rd minute. #ENGBEL
— Greg Hands (@GregHands) June 28, 2018
England and Belgium are so worried about facing Brazil in quarter finals, they may not realize the loser first have to face Colombia. #ENGBEL
— Hosh Gal (@hoshgal) June 28, 2018
Belgium will go very far. Far far.
Meanwhile, England will be eliminated by Colombia. #ENGBEL
— A Promise Kept???? (@eduinata) June 28, 2018
Gareth Southgate defended his decision to play a weakened side, however, saying that putting a full strength team on the pitch was “a risk we didn’t need to take”.
“We are through to the next phase,” he said. “We had to do what we believed was the right thing. OK, we didn’t win the game, but there was a myriad of other things involved in the decision. In terms of the changes in the team, they had a game four days ago in extreme heat [in Nizhny Novgorod].We could have played them again on Thursday but, earlier in the day, you already saw Colombia lose a key player [James Rodríguez], Japan lose a key player and, had Senegal gone through, they would have lost a key player too.”
Time will tell if the decision has paid off.