When the World Cup finals began 14 days earlier, Russian Federation had no hope, Mohamed Salah was one of the putative stars, VAR was a disaster waiting to happen and the Germans most likely had a bus parade route marked for Berlin, just in case.
With top spot in group G on the line, a freaky situation has arisen in which neither Belgium or England may want to actually win their final game and therefore top the group. The runner-up in the group will play Colombia, and then a quarter-final against Switzerland or Sweden if they beat the South Americans.
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.
Yet a troubled start for Germany at the tournament means that the Group G victor risks facing either the defending champions or a fearsome Brazil earlier in the knockout rounds.
England coach Gareth Southgate may also make changes, but said he wants his team to keep its winning momentum. This could be their one and only start in a World Cup, with millions watching around the world, so of professional pride will kick in.
"Kane can hurt us", he said. We want to be in those games. "Why we would be starting to plot which would be a better venue for our semi-final is beyond me really".
Belgium Bounce Brazil Out Of World Cup With 2-1 Quarterfinal Victory
Brazil started brighly before a corner kick took a deflection off Fernandinho to give Belgium the lead in the 13th minute. Hazard, for his part, captained Belgium as they overturned a 2-0 deficit against Japan, assisting the equalising goal.
Round of 16: Colombia, Japan or Senegal. Now between England and Belgium at five points.
But Southgate did concede he would probably make some changes for a clash that neither side needs to win.
Unlike Southgate, the former Everton and Wigan manager said he was approaching Thursday´s game with one eye firmly on the knockout rounds.
"People will say that will only be the right decision if we win but it was the right decision because we could potentially be going into another match that could go into extra time and risking players we didn't need to risk". "The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify, and we have done that".
"It was a hard game for us, our first real test, and we'll take a lot away from it".
Other key players such as defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen could also be rested, meaning they may miss the chance to go up against club teammate Harry Kane.
Panama is in the World Cup for the first time but wasn't competitive in Group G and lost 6-1 to England in its second match.
Low opted not to freshen up his side too much with an injection of youth and pace, and he instead kept faith with numerous players who had done the job four years previously. The winners of Group G will meet either Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals if they defeat Japan on July 2.