FIFA World Cup: Belgium vs England preview


Belgium and England will try to get themselves a consolation prize at the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they meet in the third place play-off on Saturday at Saint-Petersburg Stadium. The two teams have already met once since the start of the tournament as both played in Group G. Belgium won the group match 1-0 but both teams were sure of qualifying at that point and there were some that said England lost the match on purpose in order to avoid facing Brazil in the quarter-finals. That was the first ever victory for Belgium over England, there have also been three draws and two English wins recorded in direct matches in all competitions.

Belgium had an impressive World Cup campaign and they have reached the semi-finals for the second time in their history. The last time Belgium went that far in the tournament was in 1986, when they lost to Argentina in the semi-finals and then to France in the third place play-off. They did very well to fight back from 2-0 down to beat Japan in the first knockout round, then did even better to defeat favourites Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals, but their performance in the semi-final match against France was not as good and eventually they lost 1-0. The French controlled the game after scoring the go-ahead goal and Belgium were unable to find a way past the defence. Thomas Meunier was suspended for the match against France but now he can return to the starting eleven.

England were dreaming of winning another World Cup after their historic success in 1966, but they had to admit defeat in the semi-finals against Croatia even though they had taken the lead in the first half. After Kieran Trippier put England ahead with a great free-kick shot, Croatia took control of the game and eventually won it 2-1 in extra-time after having limited the Three Lions to just one shot on target in 120 minutes. After such a long and intense match, manager Gareth Southgate might choose to make some changes in his starting eleven as some players might be both tired and lacking motivation. England have played a World Cup third place play-off in 1990 and they lost the match 2-1 against Italy. Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are injury doubts ahead of Saturday's match.

Probable line-ups:

Belgium: Courtois - Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen - Meunier, Witsel, Fellaini, Chadli - De Bruyne, Hazard - Lukaku

England: Pickford - Walker, Stones, Maguire - Alexander-Arnold, Lingard, Dier, Delph, Rose - Kane, Vardy

My prediction: Belgium to win 3-1, they are the better team and England will most likely lack motivation.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Belgium win - 2.20
Draw - 3.75
England win - 3.30

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