Belgium vs England | 2018 Fifa World Cup , Third Place Play-Off | Saturday , 14 July
After being beaten in the semi-finals to the hands of France and Croatia respectively and missing out on football’s biggest prize both these teams now meet on Saturday in Saint Petersburg for one last time to finish their campaign on a high.
Belgium’s best ever finish came in 1986 when they finished fourth after losing the third place play off to France. The next game will be an opportunity for this golden generation of players to set new records whereas for England a win would take them to only their second best finish since 1966.
England manager Gareth Southgate has made it clear that no team wants to play the World Cup third-place play-off, but their match against Belgium on Saturday offers them a chance to finish the tournament on a winning note.
— Simon Mignolet (@SMignolet) July 11, 2018
Neither of these sides would have recovered from a heartbreak of missing out on the World Cup Final, but a third placed finish is the least their fans would expect after a promising campaign. What still remains is a head to head fight for the golden boot between England’s Harry Kane and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku with the former sitting 2 ahead currently on 6 goals.
Will one of these two #PL strikers be claiming the #WorldCup Golden Boot in tomorrow's third place play-off? ?@HKane leads the way on six goals, closely tracked by @RomeluLukaku9 on four pic.twitter.com/L9Lysqi6KF
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 13, 2018
The two sides met just two weeks ago in the final group stage game of the 2018 Fifa World Cup as one may recall both teams playing with weakened sides after qualification been already secured. It finished with Belgium winning 1-0 thanks to a spectacular strike from Adnan Januzaj, but The Red Devils might still regret topping their group which handed them a difficult route with Brazil and France in their way to final.
Prior to their group stage defeat vs Belgium, England had lost just one of their previous 21 meetings with them.
— Football Super Tips (@FootySuperTips) July 13, 2018
A 1-0 semi-final loss to the hands of France saw Belgium lose their 22 game unbeaten run but The Red Devils did not fail to impress as they topped their group with 3 out of 3 wins and scoring the most goals (9).
Falling 2-0 down to Japan in their round of 16 tie, Belgium seemed to have overexterted themselves in the early stages of the tournament but they were quick to bounce back with a win. They even defeated the favourites Brazil 2-1 as a magnificient Kevin De Bruyne strike was enough to add to Fernandinho’s unfortunate own goal.
Thomas Meunier who missed the previous game due to suspension is available as Martinez will make as few changes as possible.
Romelu Lukaku has scored 4 of Belgium’s 14 goals in the tournament and sits second to Harry Kane in the golden boot race which will be decided in Saturday’s game.
“I am not going to make changes now to give certain players opportunities because they have already received them against England.
“Any change will be to make the team stronger.
“Even the most important players that have completed a lot of minutes, I’ve seen them fresh and looking forward to the game.”
–Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez
Belgium defender Thomas Meunier said :
“We beat England in the group stage, so we can beat them now.Winning isn’t an obligation, but we want this. Third place is now the minimum. It’s not a waste of time; it’s a game we want to play.”
Predicted Line-Up : Courtois, Vertonghen, Kompany, Alderwiereld, Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, de Bruyne, Mertens, Lukaku, Hazard
England Coach Gareth Southgate said :
“The honest thing is it’s not a game any team wants to play in,” Southgate said ahead of the match against Belgium.
“We have two days to prepare. We will want to give a performance of huge pride. There’s no question about that. It’s always there every time we wear the shirt of our national team, we want to play with pride, we want to play well and win.
“Of course it is going to be a really difficult task over the next 24 hours to assess everybody and to get everybody mentally back to where we want them for a game like that.
“But that will be the challenge. I think it is too easy to move on immediately from what we’ve just been through.
Predicted Line-Up : Butland, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Rose, Henderson, Lingard, Loftus-Cheek, Kane, Rashford
Predicted Score :