Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Romelu Lukaku: It’s now or never for Belgium’s golden generation

Romelu Lukaku: It’s now or never for Belgium’s golden generation

Ultimately, however, any country looking to win the World Cup must beat the best at some stage. Or it could be a battle of B teams.

"The first game at any tournament is always a little tough and the heat also exhausted us out but after rest we'll be ready to roll again", Chelsea playmaker Hazard said in the build-up to the weekend's clash.

That means fans hoping for a shootout between Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku may be disappointed.

Until Kane re-directed Ruben Loftus-Cheek's shot for his hat-trick and England's sixth against Panama, Lukaku was joint top of the Golden Boot table with Cristiano Ronaldo on four.

"It's not easy to score that amount of goals in two games", said Martinez, as his team impressively followed up their 3-0 opening win over Panama and helped Russian Federation 2018 set a World Cup record for 27 tournament games without a goalless draw. That's the most important thing.

Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 worldwide matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Lukaku, playmaker Eden Hazard and winger Dries Mertens are all nursing injuries after Belgium's 5-2 victory over Panama.

"Both teams will try to press each other very high and try to win the ball and dictate play".

Twitter reacts to Germany's game-winning goal against Sweden
What's already been a shaky defense will be without Jerome Boateng, who picked up a red card. South Korea, with zero points, could even advance.

"For our country, that would be a very hard mindset to have", Southgate said of the possibility of taking it easy. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen.

For Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld, the question over which player was the Greatest Of All Time - jokingly referred to as the Goat - had been answered. Martinez could rest him against England on Thursday, and call on his back-up, Batshuayi, who scored Belgium's fifth. "The reality is that we are qualified and in a tournament like the World Cup, you're only as good as the 23 players (in the squad)". "But like any other player he knows well that what matters is improving as a team".

"I could have gone off right away, but I wanted to push it. Everybody wants to play", he said. "He did it again today and I'm happy I matched his performance". "I feel ready if the trainer needs me".

Belgium and England are now locked at the top of Group G with identical records, but a draw will mean that fair play could be factored into the calculations of who wins the group. Although none of those injuries appear serious, they are obvious candidates to miss the England match to ensure they are 100 per cent fit for the knockouts.

Japan, Senegal and Colombia are all possible opponents for Belgium and England in the round of 16.

England and Belgium players will encounter plenty of familiar faces. Stones also used to play with Lukaku at Everton.

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could be one of those to come into the team, depending on how he handles training over the next few days.

Like this: