Third place up for grabs in Saint Petersburg

Third place up for grabs in Saint Petersburg
Jamie Vardy (R) of England and Dedryck Boyata of Belgium in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group G preliminary round soccer match between England and Belgium in Kaliningrad, Russia, 28 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Jul 12, 2018. 11:29

A third place finish at the 2018 World Cup will be up for grabs when Belgium and England meet at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, July 14, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Belgium’s hopes of a first World Cup title were dashed on Tuesday night when they were beaten 1-0 by France. Samuel Umtiti’s header early in the second half was enough to send the ‘Red Devils’ out of the tournament.

It’s a huge missed opportunity for coach Roberto Martinez and the country’s ‘golden generation’, who looked to have the talent to go all the way and claim the trophy, especially in the wake of their impressive win over Brazil in the quarterfinals.

England’s momentum seemed to grow through the tournament and they were the favourites for their semifinal against Croatia on Wednesday, but Gareth Southgate’s men seemed to run out of steam and self-belief as they lost 2-1 after extra time.

Nonetheless, given the relatively low expectations surrounding the ‘Three Lions’ heading into the tournament, they can still consider it a successful showing – even through the weight of their 1966 triumph remains as a burden.

Given that the third-place playoff is generally viewed as the game no one wants to play, it would be no surprise if both teams opted for plenty of changes from their semifinal line-ups.

That would mean we see the likes of Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard and Michy Batshuayi for Belgium, while England could field players such as Gary Cahill, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck.

In head-to-head terms, Belgium and England have met in seven 22 matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The ‘Three Lions’ have claimed 15 wins compared to just two for the ‘Red Devils’, while five games have been drawn.

The teams met earlier in this World Cup, with their Group G game in Kaliningrad on June 28 ending in a 1-0 win for Belgium thanks to a fine strike from Adnan Januzaj.

Belgium v England – head-to-head

Matches played 22

Belgium wins 2

England wins 15

Draws 5

Belgium goals 26

England goals 70

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