Belgium vs England Preview: Can Romelu Lukaku overtake Harry Kane in the Golden Boot race?
Written by: Neelav Chakravarti
Both the Red Devils and the Three Lions are hoping to end their World Cup campaign with a win.
Unlike Croatia, England will be facing a Belgium side whose many players ply their trade in the English Premier League, thereby the third-place match will be an equally-contested clash between friendly faces. Both teams could have made it to the FIFA World Cup final, but Lady Luck was not on their side with both suffering narrow losses in the semi-finals.
Although, criticised for his tactics in the knockout stages, Gareth Southgate will be looking to finish the tournament on a high. It hasn't been bad for this young England side with established players like Gary Cahill being benched and in-form defenders like Harry Maguire being thrust in the starting XI.
Meanwhile, Roberto Martinez is rather disappointed that his side is not in the final after a dominant display against the French. This was probably the last chance for Belgium's "Golden Generation" to win a World Cup, but even a third-place finish will be a good prize for this well-oiled unit.
Belgium defeated England in the group stages
About the Teams
Martinez will be confident of his squad as they have already beaten a second-string England side in a dead rubber group stage fixture.
The backline of Vincent Kompany, Jan Verthongan, and Toby Alderweireld have been heavily reliant on the heroic saves of Thibaut Courtois and will be so again. Meunier and Carrasco could be playing as wing backs again, although they didn't start against France.
Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel are expected to play as defensive midfielders, with Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne expected to have a more attacking role and provide the passes for Romelu Lukaku who has scored four goals so far.
Southgate knows that his youthful squad have given their best and could beat Hazard and Co. for a third-place finish.
A lot will be dependent on goalkeeper Jordan Pickford whose stock has gone up due to this World Cup. He seems to be well-protected by John Stones, Maguire, and Kyle Walker. Jordan Henderson has played a talismanic role at the base of midfield. Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli are expected to run around the pitch throughout the game, with Raheem Sterling and and Harry Kane sitting up front. There is a chance that Rashford could start in place of Sterling.
The match will be played at Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium (64,468 capacity). The stadium has already hosted six matches earlier including Belgium's semi-final loss against France.
Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Kompany, Meunier, Fellaini, Witsel, De Bruyne; Hazard, Lukaku, Carrasco.
England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Young, Trippier, Henderson, Lingard, Alli, Kane, Rashford.
What to Expect
Both the teams know each other pretty well due to the English Premier League. The result could very well be decided by the attackers of both the teams and also the goalkeepers. A lot will be depending on the midfielders and a heated battle in the middle of the park could very well happen.
Khel Now Predicts
Belgium 2-0 England
Published: Fri Jul 13, 2018 04:57 PM IST