KALININGRAD, Russia, June 28, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – England captain Harry Kane was left on the bench as Gareth Southgate and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez made sweeping changes with qualification for the World Cup last 16 already secured.
Only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, John Stones and Ruben Loftus-Cheek kept their places from the England side that thrashed Panama 6-1 on Sunday, with Kane not given the opportunity to bolster his lead in the race for the Golden Boot.
Martinez made nine changes, with Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne among those left out.
The sides are tied on goal difference and goals scored at the top of Group G, with England leading the section by virtue of a marginally better fair-play record.
The pre-match build-up has been dominated by questions over whether it would be beneficial to finish second in the group and avoid the top half of the draw, packed with heavyweights Brazil, France, Argentina, Uruguay and Portugal, until a potential final.
The group winners will face Japan in the last 16, with the runners-up meeting Colombia.
Southgate said winning in Kaliningrad was his priority to keep England’s momentum going into the knockout phase but that is not reflected in his team selection.
Jordan Pickford; Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, John Stones; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Eric Dier (capt), Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Rose; Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford
Coach: Gareth Southgate (Eng)
Thibaut Courtois (capt); Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata, Leander Dendoncker; Nacer Chadli, Moussa Dembele, Youri Tielemans, Adnan Januzaj; Marouanne Fellaini, Thorgan Hazard; Michy Batshuayi
Coach: Roberto Martinez (ESP)
Referee: Damir Skomina