LONDON — Harry Kane will deal with his Tottenham teammates to a meal out this week to thank them for his or her half in his annus mirabilis however, for 2 amongst them, Kane’s record-breaking 12 months is each a trigger for celebration and a nagging concern. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, the Belgium centre-backs, will likely be tasked with stopping essentially the most potent striker in Europe once they meet Kane and England on the World Cup in Kaliningrad on June 28.
Kane is certainly one of six Spurs gamers anticipated to be in England’s squad subsequent summer time — Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Dele Alli are the opposite contenders — and lengthy earlier than they had been paired with Belgium within the group stage, the back-and-forth had begun at Hotspur Manner, the membership’s Enfield coaching base.
Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele have tried to scare the English contingent with reminders concerning the power of Belgium’s “Golden Era,” name-dropping Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens.
Alli and Dier, who are likely to take the bait, can now reply that England boast the ahead who outscored everybody else in elite soccer, even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, in 2017. The jibes, although, have taken on a brand new fringe of warning for the reason that Dec. 11 draw, which Vertonghen watched with Dier.
“We stay shut collectively in London. It was a Friday afternoon and I invited him over,” Vertonghen instructed ESPN FC in an unique interview. “We by no means spoke about being in the identical group. That may’ve been very unusual. Truly I used to be very excited. I instructed the fellows I would favor to not play within the group stage towards England. We all know one another so properly.
“Earlier than we had been paired collectively, we had been speaking [about the World Cup]. We’re all the time giving the fellows a little bit of stick, saying, ‘We’re higher’ or ‘We have this man and that man.’
“So Eric and Dele got here again to me saying, ‘Yeah however we have got this man!’ [Now] everybody may be very cautious. Whoever tries the banter will get it again in preseason in the event that they lose. Nobody has a giant mouth [anymore] as a result of everyone seems to be petrified of getting stick in preseason!”
In England’s case, “this man” is Kane, who barring harm will lead the road for Gareth Southgate’s facet in Russia, the place he will likely be aiming to make 2018 much more memorable than this 12 months. It’s no marvel that Vertonghen, Belgium’s most-capped participant ever, greeted the draw with a wail of “Oh my god, nooooo,” as Dier punched the air.
England and Belgium may even play Tunisia and Panama earlier than they meet within the last group recreation and Vertonghen is hopeful that each can have certified, leaving the sport extra a matter of delight than World Cup survival and permitting Kane, who he charges as “up there with the right finest strikers on the earth,” a relaxation.
In all chance, nonetheless, there will likely be one thing on the road and the match might hinge on which Spurs duo has an edge over acquainted foes: Vertonghen or Alderweireld, or Kane and Alli, who is predicted to play behind his club-mate in Southgate’s most well-liked Three-Four-2-1 formation.
Vertonghen, who has all the time coped impressively together with his worldwide teammate Romelu Lukaku within the Premier League, believes the benefit is firmly with himself and Alderweireld.
“As a result of we all know how they play,” he defined. “In fact, it is the identical for them however I believe, from expertise, the benefit is with the defenders. In fact, if Harry scores 3 times in July, I am going to kick myself!
“So far as predicting opponents, it is laborious. Particularly with Harry and Dele. They management so many elements of the fashionable recreation. Harry can do every little thing. He scores from crosses, he creates his personal possibilities, he can get in behind. He is aware of my strengths and weak spot. And it is the identical for Toby. We’ll see! I face Harry in coaching so I understand how good he’s.”
The connection between Belgium — who’re managed by former Premier League duo Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry — and England goes approach past Tottenham, although, and Vertonghen says everybody within the squad is aware of one or two gamers from their future opponents.
The 30-year-old is a agency believer that Southgate ought to construct his group across the Spurs contingent and attempt to profit from the sturdy philosophy established by his membership supervisor Mauricio Pochettino.
“It should be a really particular recreation for therefore many gamers. We’ve 12 or 13 gamers with Belgium who play within the Premier League and everybody is aware of a few English gamers. Will probably be a fantastic recreation to look at,” Vertonghen mentioned. “We’ve seen how necessary the Tottenham gamers are for England’s philosophy. Clearly England have their very own philosophy however they’ll profit from that philosophy [at Tottenham].
“I can solely converse for the fellows from Tottenham — they’ve a lot high quality. They’re so constructive. I believe they are often essential for England. I see England as a fantastic squad with all types of nice qualities and gamers however I believe the Tottenham gamers may be the center of the following era of England gamers.”
Because it stands, Southgate is more likely to take Vertonghen’s recommendation — Rose, Dier, Alli and Kane are close to sure to start out in Russia — and that could possibly be dangerous information for Belgium if Kane continues his kind into the New 12 months.
Dan is ESPN FC’s Tottenham correspondent. Comply with him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.