With a clear disparity in strength between teams on opposite sides of the draw, winning the group might not be all it's cracked up to be. A draw would mean the order of their finish would be decided by the fair play table - and if still level, a drawing of lots. If that is tied, then the victor will be decided by a coin toss.
"England must prepare and approach this game versus Belgium as if it was a knock out match - top the group and then and only then think about your next opponent. He had no further damage but it is still uncomfortable", Martinez told his pre-match news conference on the eve of the game. "We want to win". That is the reality, we have put ourselves in this situation, we wanted to qualify and we have done that.
Now the Three Lions are ahead of Belgium on the table thanks to the fact that the Red Devils have accrued three yellow cards to England's two. We've just got to go and win.
Players who accrue another caution before the quarter-finals will serve a one-game suspension.
Do you keep a winning team together to maintain momentum? "Southgate started the week planning to make a few changes but, having seen Belgium boss Roberto Martinez say he will ring the changes, it appears England have changed their plan and gone the same way". He remembers listening to Chris Coleman talking, after leading Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, about how you have to go for things in life and not be afraid to fail.
Whether Southgate's comments are just lip service or a statement of intent remains to be seen.
"It's very important for us to protect and give every player the best possible programme to be in the best condition for the knockout games".
England and Belgium are locked together with two wins apiece at the top of Group G heading into their final encounter on Friday morning (AEST).
Loew, who led his side to glory against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, refused to be drawn on his future in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday´s result.
"His biggest threat is he can feed Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku with his passes".
Sure, both teams will rest players.
Marcus Rashford could also come in for Raheem Sterling, who has underperformed so far in Russian Federation.
The players' performance will also be a factor in who wins the golden ball (the tournament's best player).