Third Place Play-Off: Belgium vs England soccer world cup Preview

Belgium vs England soccer world cup Preview

Belgium and England will lock horns in the third-place play-off on Saturday afternoon. 

Belgium and England will meet for the second time in the soccer world cup in Russia, this time with a bronze medal on the line, as they face off in the third-place match after being defeated by their semi-final opponents. 

The two teams faced each other in the final group stage match with second-string sides, with the Red Devils winning 1-0 thanks to a strike from Adnan Januzaj.

For the second time this soccer world cup, Belgium are favourites against England. Many will be hoping to see both teams field their strongest line-ups on Saturday, but with little at stake, we could even see a rematch between Belgium’s reserves and England’s reserves. Although Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane should get their chance to compete for the Golden Boot award.

Belgium vs England | Saturday 14 July | Saint-Petersburg Stadium | 16:00

To Win (90 mins)
Belgium 23/20
Draw 26/10
England 21/10

Third Place Winner (Outright)
Belgium 6/10
England 5/4

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Belgium
Belgium will return to Saint-Petersburg Stadium where they were denied a place in the soccer world cup final after losing 1-0 against France in the semi-final on Tuesday. It was their first defeat in Russia and also the first time that they failed to find the back of the net. 

Belgium started the tournament in Russia with a convincing 3-0 victory over Panama which followed with a thumping 5-2 win over Tunisia. They then faced England in a battle for top spot as the Three Lions had also won both of their games. 

With their places in the last 16 already secured, both Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate fielded second-string sides with Adnan Januzaj’s strike giving the Red Devils a 1-0 victory. The result saw Martinez’s men claim top spot in Group G, however, it earned them placement into the tougher side of the knockout bracket as England ran through Colombia, Sweden and Croatia.

Belgium completed a remarkable comeback as they came from 2-0 down to beat Japan as Nacer Chadli scored with the last kick of the game to help the Red Devils reach the quarter-finals. The Belgians then came up against a much-fancied Brazil team but thanks to the efforts from their two star players Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard along with Thibaut Courtois’ fine saves, Martinez’s men claimed a deserved 2-1 victory. 

The Red Devils have nine different scorers in this soccer world cup with Hazard and Lukaku their only players to score more than once. Both of Hazard’s goals came against Tunisia while Lukaku has four to his name – two behind six-goal Kane who leads the way for the Golden Boot award. 

Lukaku will need to net a hat-trick and hope that Kane doesn’t score in order to beat the Tottenham man to the award. The Manchester United forward has failed to beat Kane’s tally of goals in each of the last four Premier League campaigns.


England
England’s soccer world cup dream ended on Wednesday as the Three Lions lost 2-1 to Croatia, courtesy of goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic. Southgate’s side went in front when Kieran Trippier fired in a free-kick early on but it was not to be.

And although it’s NOT coming home, the Three Lions have been surprising in this tournament. It did involve a narrow win over Sweden and a penalty shootout win over a James-less Colombia, but it’s well-established that England surpassed expectations in Russia.

Although their squad is not star-studded, Southgate has managed to get the best out of his players by instilling unity and teamwork. Ahead of the match against Belgium, the 47-year-old said his team will aim to give a performance of huge pride on Saturday. 

"The honest thing is it's not a game any team wants to play in."
"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,” he said.

England are likely to make several changes with Trippier the main injury problem. Southgate could take the opportunity to give game time to others in the squad who have not featured.

Verdict: Belgium Win (23/20)
Belgium were unbeaten throughout the tournament until losing by a single goal to France. Martinez has got his side playing wonderful football and I’m backing them to oust the Three Lions, just like they did in the group stages.

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