Belgium v England Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
July 12, 2018
Saint Petersburg Stadium - World Cup Third Place Play-Off
Gareth Southgate's England have to rouse themselves after Wednesday's disappointing World Cup semi-final defeat, as they face off against Belgium for third. The Red Devils will also be frustrated, having outplayed France for much of their defeat but come up short.
Belgium won when the two sides met in the final game of the group stage, in what turned out to be a bizarre match, with neither side particularly pushing for the win. This is likely to be the case on Saturday as well, with players wanting to avoid injuries before pre-seaon training.
Both managers are likely to rotate their sides, with the two XIs having rotated little during the gruelling World Cup campaign. Roberto Martinez may well start a similar team to that which faced England two weeks ago, with goalscorer Adnan Januzaj starting in the place of Eden Hazard, and Michy Batshuayi pushing for the centre-forward position.
Gareth Southgate will be forced into a change at right-back, as Kieran Trippier limped off injured on Wednesday. Trent Alexander-Arnold will likely take his place, with the Liverpool youngster having impressed in England's last clash with Belgium.
Belgium v England Preview and Predictions
In the lesser of the weekend's games, Belgium vie with England for a podium finish. Given the two sides impressive performance in the competition, this will be disappointing, however, both sides have enjoyed a good run, and at very least, matched expectations.
Martinez's side's win over Brazil will earn them plaudits back home, with the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne having only increased their stock as world class footballers. Saturday's game is unlikely to show the intensity of the past five matches, and Belgium's strongest XI may well sit it out, however, with a strong bench, able to boast the likes of Thorgan Hazard and Dries Mertens, Martinez will be confident of a win.
England may have had an easier run to the semi-final than their opponents, although this could well have been their downfall. With little experience in game-management, Southgate struggled to modify his team to an ever-changing game, with Dele Ali especially tiring towards the end. Saturday's game will provide the opportunity for the manager to learn more about his reserves, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcus Rashford almost guaranteed starters. With European Championship qualification coming up, it is vital for the manager to learn more about his side.
A third-place play-off may seem a consolation prize for the two sets of fans, but with the transfer market in full swing, and new managers to impress, both sets of players will be up for it on Saturday. With any hope, this should provide a more interesting match than when the sides last met.
Dries Mertens to score first at 10/1
The Napoli forward lost his place towards the end of the tournament, but may start in his natural position as a striker.
Belgium to win in 90 minutes at 2/9
Martinez has a stronger squad to call upon meaning Belgium will have either fresher legs or a stronger XI.