Sadly, Football is not coming home, but the Three Lions are not yet done in the FIFA World Cup. England will face other losing semi-finalists Belgium in the third-place play-off at Saint Petersburg Stadium on Saturday.
England lost to Croatia in the extra time of their semi-final in a heart-breaking manner. Following an early goal from Kieran Trippier, England looked set for their first World Cup final after 1966. However, goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic dumped England out of the competition. Despite their exit, the English side has produced arguably their best performance since 1990 and had already won hearts back home. Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate’s men would still want to finish the Cup on a high.
Belgium come into this game following a 1-0 defeat to France. The Belgians have already defeated England in the World Cup, and they are favourites in the betting market to repeat the feat on Saturday. It has been a remarkable tournament for the Red Devils too, and they have a chance to achieve their best finish in the football’s biggest tournament. Prior to Belgium’s impressive campaign in Russia, their best finish was their fourth spot at the 1986 World Cup.
Ostensibly, this game is a meaningless fixture as the third-place playoff has always been at World Cups. However, there is also a small matter of the Golden Boot. Both Harry Kane(6) and Romelu Lukaku(4) are vying for the prestigious award and each would want a chance at the trophy in their last game of the Cup. We expect both managers to ring in a lot of changes in their starting eleven for the game. Kane and Lukaku were also not effective in semi-finals, and hence we believe, they will start the game on the bench.
Team and Injury News
Southgate could give opportunities to Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford in the starting eleven. Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck has been a spectator throughout the cup, and he could also get some minutes against Belgium. In the midfield, youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek should get another opportunity. According to the latest report from Sky Sports, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson are injury doubts.
For the Red Devils, Romelu Lukaku was ineffective against France. He must be desperate to catch Kane in the Golden Boot race, but we expect manager Roberto Martinez to start Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi against England. Adnan Januzaj scored a stunning goal in 1-0 win over England in the group stage and he should return to the starting eleven.
It’s not really the biggest game in football, and thus, we expect both sides to play attacking and free-flowing football. Historically, the playoff match has witnessed a lot of goals. Since 1974, no third-place game has ended with less than three goals. In fact, last four third-place games have ended with more than 3.5 goals. Thus, we are backing +3.5 goals in the game as our betting tip. Be sure to get the best value by checking out the latest free bets in this list.
Belgium recently defeated England 1-0 in the group stage. Prior to that, both nations also played each other in last-16 of 1990 World Cup, and the Three Lions won 1-0 in extra-time. They have also played draws at 1980 Euro Championships and 1954 World Cup.