England vs. Belgium Playoff Preview
The first of two outstanding World Cup matches start on Saturday, after both Belgium and England came up short in their Semi-Finals appearances, each European giant will look to leave Russia with a third place finish beside their name, and cement themselves in the history of the FIFA record books.
Each nation had terrific runs in pursuit of lifting International hardware, now with additional experiences under their belts, you would expect each Country to be perennial favorites over the next four years.
Enjoy this third place play-off, with so much star powered scattered across the pitch, we are certain to expect a memorable event, as the World Cup winds down to a triumphant end.
62004 Belgium vs 62005 England
Krestovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
7-14-2018 - 10:00 am ET
The magnificent Krestovsky Stadium will play host to this outstanding Group G re-match, with the Red Devils and Three Lions full of club teammates, the familiarity between each side will be quite fascinating.
Belgium enter the match-day with plenty of questionable moves during their time in Russia, the opportunity to play on the weaker side of the bracket has there for the taking, and avoid the likes of Brazil and France along the way. The Red Devils will now have to wait until the Euro's 2020, to see if this golden generation can finally get over the International hump.
Roberto Martinez ran out of creative ideas against Les Bleus, unable to take advantage of the possession battle, the Belgium's were out-dueled by Frances midfield, which led too their early demise with plenty of unfulfilled ambitions.
The Red Devils will be back at full strength against England, as they are expected to field their strongest starting eleven. Thomas Meunier is scheduled to return after a yellow card accumulation, his presence on the defensive side of the pitch will be a welcomed commodity.
The Belgium's are also set too roll with their normal 3-4-3 formation, having switched to a 3-5-2 alignment against the French, the Red Devil's will revert back too their recognized alignment.
The famed front-line trio of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku will all partner up one last time, before eventually heading to England for the start of the Premier League, now less than a month away. There will be an added emphasis for these world class players to have a better showing in this play-off finale, after collectively failing to put the ball in the back of the net in one of more important matches in their nations history, much will be expected against this English side, after a rather disappointing showing against France in the Semi-Finals.
Martinez will also be well advised to keep Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel in charge of the central midfield positions, although Fellaini was beaten on a set piece situation by Samuel Umtiti that eventually led to the winning goal by France, his presence has made this side a better all-around unit, providing a necessary defensive contribution, and precise passing to help set the Belgium offense into motion.
Belgium defenders Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany and Toby Alderweireld may be experiencing their last shift on a major International stage, with Kompany certainly coming to the end of his national team tenure, the chance for a new rotation at the back is certainly on the horizons, making this a special 90 minutes for this seasoned group to represent their countries crest for possibly one last time.
The Red Devils flexed their muscles on the offensive side of the ball during their time in Russia, scoring an average 2.3 Goals per match, during their last six FIFA World cup competitions.
The Belgium side were led by Thibaut Courtois in between the sticks, keeping two clean-sheets the Chelsea man helped his veteran laced back-line only concede 0.7 Goals per match, during their last six FIFA World Cup competitions.
England were left to feel they let one get away, after taking a lead only five minutes into their match with Croatia, the Three Lions seemed to let their foot off the gas, and allowed the Croatians to snatch the victory away in extra-time, and eventually spoiled the dream of bringing the trophy back home, to where the game began.
English skipper Gareth Southgate is still preaching a positive message within his camp, although he is set to make unilateral changes within his starting eleven. The objective is still clear, they have the opportunity to leave Russia with a third place finish out of a field of 32 teams.
Leicester City man Jamie Vardy is rumored to join Harry Kane atop England's front-line, apart of the Three Lions potent 3-5-2 formation. Vardy should bring more of a clear cut striker to the pitch, as he replaces Raheem Sterling who contributed too much of the successes this England squad experienced this summer, but the Man City attacking midfielder was still unable to hit the back of the net, as he has managed to go score-less since 2015 with the national team.
Fellow front-line member Harry Kane seems a shoe-in to add the Golden Boot to his growing list of accomplishments, now the Spurs tally's man will get one last shot at add too his total against fellow Tottenham teammates, with Alderweireld and Vertonghen placed in the primary roles of limiting the English striker from leading the Three Lions to victory.
The England midfield will see a substantial amount of changes, with Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Trent Alexander-Arnold all getting rare starts for their beloved country, we should see an enthusiastic effort from this four-some, who will surely relish this special moment.
The rock of the Three Lions alignment looks to still be in place, with Jon Stones, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker all set to run one more race, this talented back-line combination have shown their true qualities when placed in the most crucial of moments, now these Premier League stars will welcome the challenge of slowing down this high-powered Belgium attack, who have placed a total of 14 goals on the score-board against their collective opponents this Summer.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford was unable to match his spectacular play for a final time against the Croatians, beat for two epic goals that will go down in World Cup history, the young net-minder should be out to redeem himself, and help send the Three Lions out on the highest of notes.
The England attack showed positive results while on Russian soil, scoring an average of 2 Goals per match, during their last six FIFA World Cup competitions.
The Three Lions should be just as proud for the defensive effort placed on display for the world too see, conceding an average 0.9 Goals per match, during their last six FIFA World Cup competitions.
Each side come into this match riding impressive International streaks, having combined to go undefeated in 40 of the last 42 matches they were involved in, both countries are accustomed to experiencing success while wearing their nations crest.
Those who tune in for this star-studded contest should expect a free-flowing style of match, unlike their first match-up both teams should play with a certain freedom, as they move forward in attack with the utmost of confidence.
Belgium and England are certain to put the ball in the back of the net on multiple occurrence's, with many of the players familiar with sharing the pitch with one another on a regular basis, this contest has the making's of one of the more entertaining fixtures during this years World Cup, as we lead into Sunday's finale to crown a champion.
Belgium vs England - Tips
Over 1.25 +100 / 2.0 - Total 1st Half Goals
Over 3 +100 / 2.0 - Total Full Time Goals
Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals -125 / 1.8