Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
NBCSports Header Logo

Southgate: Belgium lineup choice for “the bigger picture”

APTOPIX Russia Soccer WCup England Belgium

Belgium’s Moussa Dembele vies for the ball with England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, right, during the group G match between England and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)


Gareth Southgate isn’t terribly bothered by England’s 1-0 loss to Belgium in the World Cup on Thursday, a defeat which sent the Three Lions into a Round of 16 match-up with Colombia as opposed to Japan.

[ MORE: England 0-1 Belgium ]

The England manager flipped his lineup after beating Panama and Tunisia, and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez did the same. An Adnan Januzaj goal sunk England, but Southgate gained a bit more from the match.

More of his players now have World Cup experience.

“We’ve got 20 outfield players that have played in a World Cup and that’s hugely important for the feeling in our camp over the next few weeks. I had to balance that and I know in some quarters that will be criticized but I’m entirely comfortable with that. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the bigger picture.”

England plays Colombia, and a win would set them up for a match-up with Sweden or Switzerland. A win would’ve given them a more manageable Round of 16 match with Japan, but then a quarterfinal against Brazil or Mexico.

Ultimately, if one round matters to a manager, then sure: Southgate failed in his bid. But if only round of status manages to your country, then perhaps it’s not as big of a contender as it portends to be.

Follow @NicholasMendola