- After disappointing semi-final losses, England and Belgium will play for 3rd-place in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 14th.
- Eden Hazard and Belgium are sizable favorites to beat Harry Kane and England.
- 3rd-place would be Belgium’s best finish ever at the World Cup. Should you bet on De Rode Duivels to slay the Three Lions?
Belgium and England would both rather be playing on Sunday, but they can still salvage some glory from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the 3rd-place game this Saturday at St. Petersburg Stadium.
While the teams already met in the group stage, they both fielded their B-teams in a game that meant very little. Saturday’s match will be a much different affair.
Tale Of The Tape
|36||Total Shots On Target||20|
Belgium arrives in the 3rd-place game as the highest scoring team in the tournament (14 goals), while England (12) is tied for second with finalists Croatia. Belgium’s 1-0 semi-final loss to France was the first time that their high-powered attack had been held off the scoresheet. The Belgians are not dependent on striker Romelu Lukaku (4 goals) to put the ball in the net, either, getting goals from nine different players so far.
However, their defense is nearly as suspect as their offense is potent.
While they managed to keep two clean sheets in the Group Stage, one came against overmatched Panama, who may have been playing for the draw from the get-go, and the other came against England’s reserves, who weren’t terribly interested in scoring given that a win would have meant a harder road in the Knockout Stage.
This team needed a miracle second-half comeback after falling behind Japan 2-0, and also managed to let Tunisia score twice in the Group Stage. There will be holes for England to exploit, and unfortunately for Belgium, Harry Kane looks primed to do so.
Though the Tottenham star was blanked in England’s 2-1 setback to Croatia in the semi-finals, he still leads the tournament with six goals through six matches. Defender John Stones has chipped in with his first two goals in an England jersey, and four others have one apiece.
Apart from the Group Stage game with Belgium, England has scored first in every game it’s played. Three times, however, they have allowed their opponent to equalize. The first two times (against Tunisia in the Group Stage and Colombia in the Round of 16), they still managed to pull out the win. The third time was a different story, as Croatia managed to pull level at 1-1 in the second half of the semis on a goal by Ivan Perisic, and then broke every heart in England in extra time on a shocker from Mario Mandzukic.
|Spread||Moneyline||Total||To Finish 3rd|
|Belgium||-1/2 (+110)||+120||3 (EVEN) O||-150|
|England||+1/2 (-130)||+220||3 (-120) U||+125|
Pick: Belgium to Finish 3rd (-150)
If both of these teams play their best, Belgium will win. England have performed admirably all tournament, and Kane has quashed the narrative that English strikes don’t show up on the big stage. But between Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium simply have more top-end talent in midfield and up front. Their speed is almost unparalleled, even by the likes of Brazil.
While England have the slight edge on defense, thanks largely to Belgium’s Vincent Kompany being on his last, lethargic legs, give the goalkeeping advantage to Philippe Courtois over Jordan Pickford.
Belgium should also have an edge in the motivation department. The country has never finished better than 4th in the World Cup, while England will (somewhat unjustly) view 3rd-place as little consolation, since the entire nation unrealistically dreams that each World Cup will end the title drought that dates back to 1966.