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28th Jun 2018

Gary Neville’s confident half-time England prediction has come back to bite him

And he was so convinced of it too...

Patrick McCarry

And he was so convinced of it too…

Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Slaven Bilic got deep into it on ITV, on Wednesday, ahead of England’s Group G clash with Belgium.

The former England internationals felt it would suit Gareth Southgate’s men best to lose to Belgium and go into the bottom half of the knock-out draw as runners-up. Bilic disagreed and stated that maintaining a winning run was the best way forward in tournament football.

The debate ran past the TV airing and on into ITV’s regular World Cup podcast. Belgium’s brain trust – head coach Roberto Martinez and assistant Thierry Henry – had claimed that winning the game was not a huge priority as both sides had already reached the last 16. Perhaps those words were on Neville’s mind this evening.

At half-time of England vs. Belgium, with the scores level at 0-0, Neville made a bold claim:

“I said last night, I think Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry are sat there and they WANT to finish second. [They’re thinking], ‘We’re going to win this world Cup. The way to win it is to go on this side of the draw’.

“I absolutely believe that that’s exactly the way they’d be discussing. They don’t want to win this game.”

Within six minutes of the restart, Adnan Januzaj had curled in a peach to put Belgium 1-0 in front.

Martinez’ men certainly looked as if they wanted to win, late on, as Dries Mertens and Marouane Fellaini went close to making it 2-0. But the Januizaj corker was enough and Belgium topped the group.

After the winner, and full-time, Neville’s comments were not forgotten. No chance of that…

He called this one wrong.