Bouncing back from disappointment is the name of the game for Belgium and England who contest Saturday’s World Cup 2018 third place play off in Saint Petersburg.
Semi Finals: Belgium have been top scorers in this tournament but they couldn’t find a way through the French defence in the semi finals and they conceded the only goal of the game early in the second half of regulation time.
Quarter finals: Belgium came up against Brazil in the quarters, they started the game as underdogs but emerged with a 2-1 victory in regulation time. It was a terrific contest which saw Belgium get their tactics spot on and although there were heart stopping moments in their penalty area early in the game and in the second half, their counter attack also had Brazil in trouble on numerous occasions. An own goal on 13 minutes and a cracker from De Bruyne on 31 gave Belgium daylight and although Brazil pulled 1 back on 76 minutes Belgium held on. The only negative was a yellow card for defender Thomas Meunier who will sit this one out through suspension.
Last 16: Belgium were involved in another cracking contest in the last 16. They were short priced favourites for their clash with Japan but after the first half finished without a goal they conceded twice in the first 7 minutes of the second period. The fightback was launched on 69 minutes, Belgium were level on 74 minutes and they completed the comeback in the last minute of injury time to maintain their 100% record.
Group Stage: Only 2 sides came through the group stage with a 100% record, Uruguay in Group A and Belgium in Group G. The Belgian’s began with a 3-0 win over Panama with all their goals coming in the second half before they sprang out of the blocks quickly on their way to a 5-2 win over Tunisia. Those 2 victories sealed qualification alongside England who they met in their final group match. Roberto Martinez was quick to state he would be making wholesale changes to his side but that didn’t stop Belgium winning 1-0.
Lukaku 4, Hazard 2 (1 pen), De Bruyne 1, Own goal 1, Mertens 1, Batshuayi 1, Januzaj 1, Vertonghen 1, Fellaini 1, Chadli 1
Semi Finals: Despite taking the lead with a fourth minute goal England ended up losing their semi final 2-1 to Croatia. England were still 1-0 up at half time but Croatia got on top in the second half and at the end of 90 minutes it was 1-1. Extra time saw Croatia take the lead and there was no way back for the English.
Quarter Finals: England were paired with Sweden in the last 8 and although goalkeeper Jordan Pickford enhanced his reputation still further with a couple of excellent saves, England were full value for a comfortable 2-0 win in 90 minutes. This will be England’s first World Cup semi final since 1990 and the clean sheet against the Swede’s was their first of the tournament.
Last 16: England finally cracked a penalty shoot out win in a major finals when they held their nerve to beat Colombia. England should probably have won the game in regulation time but they couldn’t add to 57th minute penalty and they conceded in injury time as Colombia rallied late on to make it 1-1. Extra time passed without a goal and although England had 1 penalty saved, Colombia failed twice.
Group Stage: England sealed qualification with victory in their first 2 Group G matches and they eventually finished as runners up to Belgium. An injury time goal saw off Tunisia (2-1) and they followed up by thrashing Panama 6-1 with 5 goals arriving in the first half. A number of players were rested for their final group match which saw England lose 1-0 to a much changed Belgium side.
Kane 6 (2 pens), Stones 2, Trippier 1, Maguire 1, Ali 1, Lingard 1
Recent Head to Head
28/06/18 WCF Belgium 1-0 England
02/06/12 INTF England 1-0 Belgium
The Betting - Bet Now
Match Result: (90 minutes)
Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change
When these teams met in the group stage both coaches made wholesale changes as progression from the group was already assured. We might well see numerous changes again but the circumstances are very different after the heartbreak of losing a semi final.
The odds in the goals markets suggest a high scoring game but the prices for over 2.5 goals and both teams to score? (yes) are on the short side for me and 2-3 goals in total, a pick that has done me no harm in the knockout rounds gets the vote.
Bets: Total goals 2-3 at even money
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