Group G is so tight that England and Belgium might have to draw straws
And second place might be more favourable than first.
After England boosted their goal difference with a 6-1 win against Panama they joined Belgium at the top of Group G, and there is absolutely nothing to separate the two.
Both sides have six points from two wins, and both sides have scored eight goals and conceded two. Should they draw on Thursday then, their numbers will remain identical.
In that scenario, first and second place come down to disciplinary records.
As things stand at 6-1, if England v Belgium is a draw, top spot will be decided based on which side has the most yellow and red cards in the group stage.— Chris Flanagan (@CFlanaganFFT) June 24, 2018
It’s not what football fans are used to. Usually goal difference prevents these sorts of issues, with goals scored then considered if goal difference is tied.
England and Belgium head into the final group game tied on points, goal difference, and goals for.— Anthony Dabbundo (@AnthonyDabbundo) June 24, 2018
Which means that if they tie Thursday, the winner of the group is decided by who had fewer yellow cards combined in the three matches. Mayhem.
As if to complicate matters further, just one yellow card separates the teams, with Belgium on three and England on two.
And if they’re tied for discipline? Well then, the teams will decide second and first by a drawing of lots.
So at the moment if England v Belgium is a draw it’s down to who has fewer yellow cards. Or play spoof. Or 5 of them bowl at a set of stumps.— Mark Pougatch (@markpougatch) June 24, 2018
And after all that, both sides might actually want to avoid finishing top. Whoever finishes second could find themselves with an easier route to the final depending on who finishes where in other groups.
So, if it's going to go down to fair play and they don't want to win the group... the last 20 minutes or so of Belgium-England might be magnificently dirty.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) June 24, 2018
Whoever said football was a simple game?