I can’t think of anything more worthless than the third-place game in the World Cup – why does this tournament do this again? Oh yeah, money for FIFA. It’s not like the winning team gets to take home the bronze medal like in Olympic soccer. But, you can bet on it, so and Belgium is a soccer betting favorite to beat England Saturday at MyBookie Sportsbook. Both sides could rest key players.
2018 World Cup Third Place Game Odds & Pick: Belgium v England
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) 13 de julio de 2018
- When: Saturday, 10 AM ET
- Where: Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
- TV/Stream: Fox/Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Third Place Games Odds: Belgium +130 / England +210 / Draw +220 (Total of 3)
Why Bet on Belgium?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head Coach: Roberto Martínez
- Captain: Eden Hazard
- FIFA Ranking: 3
- World Cup Appearances: 13
This writer thought Belgium had a good chance of beating France in the semifinals, but the French defense was stifling in a 1-0 victory. It was not only Belgium’s first loss of this World Cup but the first time they didn’t score a goal – they had at least two in every other game but one and were the tournament’s highest-scoring team.
Star Eden Hazard nearly got Belgium the lead with a crisp strike into the top corner after 19 minutes, but an excellent defensive header from Raphael Varane rescued France. It was Belgium’s first defeat of any kind since a friendly defeat against Spain in September 2016. Belgium fell short in the semifinals for the second time after having also stumbled at the same stage in 1986.
With Thomas Meunier suspended for Belgium, Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was drafted into the starting lineup. Meunier will return here. Belgium did not go to extra-time in their semifinal and Roberto Martinez may not feel the need to bring in fresh legs.
Hazard criticized France’s playing style after the loss, saying he would rather lose with Belgium than win with France. Hazard came through the ranks at Lille before moving to Chelsea and was presented before the match as the most French player on his team.
“I prefer to lose with Belgium than win with France,” Hazard said after. “We play most beautifully. That’s more my style.”
Martinez has promised not to play a weakened team against England in the third-place game. The Red Devils boss made nine changes when they faced the Three Lions in their final Group G game, which Belgium won 1-0 – take nothing from that as it was meaningless because both were already through.
Martinez admits Belgium have been suffering from an “emotional hangover” since their loss to France but: “Even the most important players that have completed a lot of minutes, I’ve seen them fresh and looking forward to the game.”
- 1-T. Courtois
- 5-J. Vertonghen
- 2-T. Alderweireld
- 15-T. Meunier
- 20-D. Boyata
- 6-A. Witsel
- 7-K. De Bruyne
- 11-Y. Carrasco
- 10-E. Hazard
- 14-D. Mertens
- 9-R. Lukaku
Why Bet on England?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head coach: Gareth Southgate
- Captain: Harry Kane
- FIFA Ranking: 12
- World Cup Appearances: 15
The Three Lions took an early 1-0 lead on Croatia in the other semifinal but lost 2-1 in extra time. England took the lead through Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute free-kick. England would have been forgiven for feeling nervous ahead of their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, but Gareth Southgate’s youthful side got off to the perfect start.
When Croatia began to play their way into the game in the second half, England’s composure deserted them. Simple passes went astray and Luka Modric was allowed to control the game. Ivan Rakitic became similarly influential. By the end, England had only mustered two shots on target in 120 minutes, both of which came from dead ball situations.
With no injuries to worry about, Southgate named an identical team to that which began the last-16 game against Colombia and the quarter-final against Sweden. Trippier became the first player to score a direct free-kick for England at the World Cup since David Beckham in 2006 (against Ecuador).
England has lost three competitive games against Croatia (3) since the turn of the Millennium, more than any against any other nation. England has now been eliminated in four of their five semi-finals at major tournaments, losing each of the last four in a row (Euro 1968 v Yugoslavia, World Cup 1990 v Germany, Euro 1996 v Germany and World Cup 2018 v Croatia).
Southgate may look to make some changes ahead of this match. Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier, and Kyle Walker are all doubts for the Three Lions and only the latter may start. All three players started the semi-final defeat to Croatia but Trippier picked up a groin strain in extra-time while Henderson and Walker both suffered from cramp and fatigue.
Some of England’s fringe players will look for playing time after the side went to extra-time against Croatia on Wednesday. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Gary Cahill is set to be handed a 62nd cap in this match and hinted it will be his last appearance for the national team. The Chelsea ace featured against Belgium in the first meeting (not since) and is likely to get another shot at the Reds Devils on Saturday.
Including the game back in the group stage, which England lost 1-0 while resting key players, these countries have met three times in World Cups. The first, in 1954, was a 4-4 draw. In 1990, England played Belgium on the way to the semi-final, winning 1-0 thanks to a David Platt goal in extra-time. Overall in this series, England have won 15 of them, Belgium just three, and there have been four draws. The fixture is historically high-scoring and over the years there have been 9-1, 5-3, 5-2 and 6-1 wins for England.
- 1-J. Pickford
- 18-A. Young
- 2-K. Walker
- 12-K. Trippier
- 6-H. Maguire
- 5-J. Stones
- 8-J. Henderson
- 20-D. Alli
- 7-J. Lingard
- 9-H. Kane
- 10-R. Sterling
Expert Prediction for Belgium v England
This game will be ugly with neither team caring. Belgium 2, England 1.