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28th Jun 2018

Gary Lineker is in little doubt about which side of the draw he’d prefer to be on

It's sparked plenty of debate

Darragh Murphy

It’s clear that neither manager appears overly concerned about finishing in first place in Group G.

Both Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez made a combined 17 changes for their final group game, with the group winners set to face Japan on July 2.

But while the incentive is there to finish top of the group and enjoy a more favourable Round of 16 match-up, on paper, the path to the final could well be easier for the runners-up.

The team which finishes in second place will be paired up with Colombia on July 3, which is likely a trickier proposition than Japan, but it will also result in a somewhat more straightforward route into the deeper stages of the competition.

Should England finish first and beat Japan in the last 16, they will then be staring down the daunting barrel of a potential quarter-final against the winners of Brazil and Mexico.

However the Three Lions would be granted a match against either Sweden or Switzerland on the other side of the draw if they finish in second place and then get past Colombia.

It’s inspired plenty of debate among supporters, with some feeling that the team should not be looking beyond the next game and therefore aim for the most winnable next match. But others are already plotting progress into the semi-finals and final, and therefore hope that England finish as runners-up.

There’s no doubting which Gary Lineker would prefer as the England legend has suggested that Gareth Southgate’s heavily rotated side should go out to win their final group game and accept the potential challenge of Brazil in two games’ time.