Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 6/5
There are no doubts both sides will be low on spirits after missing out on a place in the 2018 World Cup final, but we definitely expect both Belgium and England to give their best in the third-place play-off and attempt to end a successful tournament on a high.
Belgium’s Golden Generation has so far failed to live up to the billing, but the 2018 World Cup looked like a perfect setting for Roberto Martinez’s charges to prove their worth. The Red Devils started strongly, defeating Panama, Tunisia and England to claim top spot in Group G, even though the win over the Three Lions meant they could face mighty Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Belgium first had to negotiate a difficult clash against Japan, where they showed a great deal of character to win the game after going two goals down in the second half. The Red Devils then produced their best performance of the tournament to defeat Brazil, taking a two-goal lead before suffering a late scare as Renato Augusto pulled one back for the Selecao. Buoyed by that result, Belgium played really well against France in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, creating some decent chances, but a lapse in concentration saw Samuel Umtiti score what will turn out to be a winning goal. Having showed a great deal of character so far, we trust the Red Devils will be able to recover from the heartbreaking defeat and beat England to claim the first ever third-place finish at the World Cup finals.
Important full-back Thomas Meunier returns from suspension, with Moussa Dembele likely to make way after a disappointing performance against France.
Gareth Southgate surprised many pundits when he named his final squad for the 2018 World Cup finals, opting mostly for young and talented footballers with very little international experience. Following several disappointing showings at previous major tournaments, the expectations were not exactly high and the manager and his players have clearly benefited from the absence of usual pressure that goes with England preparing for a major international competition.
It was the number one player on the team sheet Harry Kane who was instrumental in back to back wins over minnows Tunisia and Panama, but there were few more promising performances from some of his fellow teammates. England then opted to somewhat intentionally use the final group game to Belgium so as to avoid facing Brazil in the quarter-finals, and they did well to win knockout games vs Colombia and Sweden. The Three Lions then had a great chance to reach the final as they took an early lead against Croatia, but their opponents eventually got a deserved equaliser before Mario Mandzukic scored the winner in second extra time period. To be perfectly fair, England mostly reached the semis thanks to an excellent set-piece play and we believe they will struggle to match in-form Belgium side on Saturday.
Full-back Kieran Trippier is unlikely to feature after picking up a groin injury in the semi-final, while there appears to be some doubts over Harry Kane’s fitness as well.
Key Factors to Consider
- England scored 9 of 12 goals at the 2018 World Cup from set pieces
- Belgium are tournament’s highest-scoring team with 14 goals
- The Red Devils defeated England 1-0 in the group stage
- Three of their last four meetings produced just one goal
- England took the lead in each of their three knockout stage fixtures
England did really well to come this far, but they are not in the best shape at the moment having played Croatia just three days ago. Belgium, on the other hand, have been in fine form, they had an extra day to rest and we are backing them to win the third-place play-off game.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 6/5
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