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What comes next for England in the knockout stages of the World Cup?

Their reward for topping the group is a clash with Senegal on Sunday and alcohol-free celebrations in Qatar.

England's Marcus Rashford with manager Gareth Southgate as he is substituted during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2022.© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

England manager Gareth Southgate is turning his thoughts to the knock-out stages of the World Cup after Marcus Rashford’s brace helped England reach the World Cup knockout phase with a comprehensive victory against Wales.

The 104th meeting of the old rivals ended with last year’s European Championship runners-up wrapping up top spot in Group B on Tuesday evening at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Rashford’s brilliant free-kick and fizzing strike came either side of Phil Foden’s goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 triumph against Wales, who head home as England gear up for the last 16.

Their reward for topping the group is a clash with Senegal on Sunday and alcohol-free celebrations in Qatar, having toasted progress with a beer in Russia four-and-a-half years ago.

“We’ve got loads of milkshake back at the hotel,” Southgate said.

“Everything is different, isn’t it? We’re embracing it. We love our base camp, the people that are operating the hotel are fabulous people. Really we couldn’t be happier.

“We’re enjoying each other’s company and the players are really tight, so to this point we’re very pleased

“Of course the big business starts now, really.”

England are strong favourites to get past Senegal on Sunday and if they beat a side denied the services of their injured talisman Sadio Mane, the pressure will be ramped up.

POTENTIAL QUARTER-FINAL – France

The defending champions have caught the eye with wins in their opening two matches in Qatar, with star man Kylian Mbappe in stunning form.

France could potentially face Poland or Argentina in the last-16 and England could then be lying in wait in the quarter-finals.

SEMI-FINAL RIVAL – Portugal

There are plenty of twists and turns before England can start thinking about a second successive World Cup semi-final, but the Euro 2020 runners-up will be in buoyant mood if they get this far in Qatar,

IN THE FINAL – Brazil

The euphoria of England fans will be reaching breaking point if they are in the World Cup final on December 18th, with Brazil potential rivals are they are now in the other half of the draw for the knock-out stages.

Brazilian superstar Neymar is expected to be back for the latter stages of this competition after suffering an ankle injury in his nation’s opening match, with the pre-tournament favourites showing flashes of brilliance in their group stage wins.

VERDICT

England’s flat performance against the USA and in the first half against Wales suggests they are unlikely to make it beyond the quarter-finals, especially if they play against France in the last-eight.

However, Southgate’s squad have great tournament experience from their run to the Euro 2020 finals and to the semi-finals of the last World Cup in Russia.

As we all know, their fans don’t need an excuse to start chanting ‘Football’s Coming Home’, but we are a long way from thinking about open top bus parades around London just yet.


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