The clash between Belgium and England will be played at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 14th. The two rivals met earlier at the tournament when Belgium recorded a 1-0 win in the group stage, but this match has a much bigger importance and we can expect to see plenty of action and excitement, and hopefully better performances from both sides.
Belgium vs. England
Three-Way: 1: Belgium +120; X: +275 Draw; 2: England +229 (Odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook)
Spread -0.5: Belgium +110; England -143
Total 3 goals: Over +102; Under -122
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Belgium collected maximum nine points in the group stage, joining Uruguay and Croatia as the only teams to do it, and after a great comeback victory over Japan in the Round of 16 and brave display and a win over Brazil in the quarter-finals, many thought that they are destined to become the new World Champions. However, the Red Devils displayed probably the worst performance at the tournament in the semis against France, who tactically beat them and even prevented them from scoring, which was the first time Belgium failed to find a back of the net here in Russia.
The Blues completely stopped Belgium’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku, and this time around, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne didn’t come to the rescue as the French coach Didier Deschamps’ defensive strategy was nearly perfect. Roberto Martinez and his assistant Thierry Henry couldn’t come up with an answer after Samuel Umtiti’s leading goal in the 51st minute, and only three attempts on target proved to be far from enough to reach the finals.
On the other hand, England experienced a great first half against Croatia and had a 1-0 lead, although it could be 2-0 if Harry Kane converted a golden goal-scoring chance, he missed from a close range. Kieran Trippier gave the Three Lions an early lead with his right-footed free-kick in the 5th minute, and instead of adding one more while Croatia was shocked, England couldn’t make it happen.
The Blazers grew stronger as the time passed by, and in the 68th minute, Ivan Perisic exploited a confusion in England’s box to get to the ball before Kyle Walker, making it 1-1, and from that point, all the Three Lions could do is to force the penalty shootout as it was evident that they don’t have the quality to score another one. However, Croatia was the one to score a winner after another mistake from England’s back three; this time, John Stones wasn’t positioned well and Mario Mandzukic accepted the big gift to hand the Blazers a historic victory.
Players to watch
Eden Hazard was the agilest Belgium player in a clash with France, but he couldn’t get one past a fantastic Hugo Lloris, and he is the man to watch here as he will likely have better goal-scoring chances than Lukaku, who will have to battle with England’s centre-backs.
Harry Kane will face his Tottenham teammates Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen and if someone is aware of their weaknesses, it’s certainly Kane. He didn’t score in the last two games and is probably still feel guilty for his missed chance against Croatia, but England’s captain will put that behind and will try to secure a bronze for his squad.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Meunier, Witsel, Fellaini, Carrasco (Chadli); De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku.
England: Pickford; Cahill, Maguire, Stones; Trippier (Alexander-Arnold), Henderson (Dier), Alli, Lingard, Young; Sterling, Kane.
Belgium is a favorite at +120, and Gareth Southgate could opt to experiment a bit with some of the fringe players in the squad, so the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marcus Rashford, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could get a chance. If that happens, the Red Devils should have a better opportunity to record a win and secure their first-ever medal at the World Cup.
The Pick: Belgium to win (+120)