Belgium vs England
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 14 July 2018
Kick-off: 16:00 CET
Belgium coach Roberto Martínez said in a Press conference two days before this game that he intended to start all his regulars, as long as they are in a condition, physically and mentally, to play. What does the second half of his sentence really mean? We will find out only an hour before kick-off, when the starting lineups will be made known. Both he and some players who talked to reporters these last days looked very much motivated to win the third-place game, finish the competition as well as possible. Belgium’s 1-0 defeat to France in the semifinal was their first in almost two years. Last time they had lost a game was in September 2016, a friendly against Spain. In 24 matches since then, the only time they had failed to score was versus Portugal, in a goalless draw early June, days before the start of the World Cup finals. The overall feeling is that Belgium could indeed have done much better against France, and the result came down to details.
Be reminded, England have already lost to Belgium in these World Cup finals, 1-0, their last group match, in which both coaches, and especially Gareth Southgate, chose to rest most of their regulars. Unlike Martínez, who said his intention was/is to send all his regulars in, Southgate looked determined, talking to reporters two days before this game, to give game time to several players who didn’t feature that much in the six previous games. Plus, there are injury and fatigue issues. Kieran Trippier couldn’t finish the semifinal against Croatia, their painful 2-1 defeat in extra-time, leaving the team with 10 players, as all changes had been made. Kyle Walker has been dealing with a muscle problem since the quarterfinal. Even Harry Kane is doubtful, having looked exhausted practically since the start of the second half of regular time versus Croatia. Then again, he is very close to finishing the tournament as the leading scorer, as he has six goals, with Romelu Lukaku second, at four, a detail that may make Southgate give the Tottenham striker game time.
Previous five matches:
France vs Belgium 1-0
Brazil vs Belgium 1-2
Belgium vs Japan 3-2
England vs Belgium 0-1
Belgium vs Tunisia 5-2
Croatia vs England 2-1
Sweden vs England 0-2
Colombia vs England 1-1
England vs Belgium 0-1
England vs Panama 6-1
Both teams’ next game is in September.
Belgium vs England: Head to head Stats
In just over 20 matches, Belgium have beaten England only twice, and one of those wins were in the group stage of these World Cup finals, in Russia (1-0). England have won a staggering 15 times, with four matches having ended in a draw.
Belgium vs England: Prediction
In my mind, there is no doubt Belgium are a better team. That’s one. Two, Martínez should leave out less regulars than Southgate. I’m backing Belgium to win the game, without needing extra time or penalties.
Belgium vs England: Betting Tips
Belgium’s victory pays 2.20, which feels good enough to avoid risking further with special bets. If I absolutely had to choose something better-paying, I would go for “Belgium and over 2.5 goals”, at 3.00.