This is arguably the most anticipated match of the group stage as England and Belgium are both tied atop Group G with six points each and both have qualified for the knockout round. Who finishes first or second remains up for grabs. The English are slight favorites on the soccer odds.
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England vs Belgium Group G 2018 World Cup Lines & Pick
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) 26 de junio de 2018
- When: Thursday, 2 PM ET
- Where: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia
- TV/Stream: Fox/Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Lines: England +159 / Belgium +17 / Draw +210 (Total 2.5)
Why Bet on England?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head coach: Gareth Southgate
- Captain: Harry Kane
- FIFA Ranking: 12
- World Cup Appearances: 15
England and Belgium have identical records going into their final match. If they draw then the top two positions in Group G will be decided by the number of cards accumulated. England has two yellows and Belgium has picked up three. If both teams have the same number of booking points then lots will be drawn to decide the final positions.
The Group G winner plays the runner-up of Group H in the next round. The runner-up plays the Group H winner. Winning this group could be key to potentially avoiding a route that includes facing Germany or Brazil in the quarterfinals.
The English have been the great this tournament and Harry Kane its biggest star. The Three Lions beat Tunisia 2-1 and then trounced Panama 6-1. Kane had a hat trick and John Stones scored twice as England scored five goals in the first half vs. Panama. It was only the fifth occasion aside had scored five goals before half-time in a World Cup match, and the first since Germany did so against Brazil in the 2014 semi-final.
The win was England’s largest margin of victory ever in the World Cup. Kane, who has now scored 12 goals in his last nine games for England, became only the fifth player to score multiple goals in each of his team’s first two World Cup games — one day after Romelu Lukaku did so for Belgium. Kane has joined Ron Flowers in 1962 as the only players to score in England’s first two World Cup games and marking the first penalty they have scored since David Beckham did so against Argentina in 2002.
Kane is the first player to have scored at least twice in both of his first two ever World Cup appearances since Poland’s Grzegorz Lato in 1974. Lato went on to win the Golden Boot at that tournament.
Raheem Sterling kept his place in England’s starting XI vs. Panama despite rumors to the contrary. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Dele Alli following his thigh injury.
England has won both of their opening two group stage games at a World Cup tournament for the third time, also doing so in 1982 and 2006. Only in 1966 (11) have England scored more goals in a single World Cup tournament than they have in 2018 (8, same as 1954 and 1990).
Jordan Pickford said England do not fear any potential World Cup knockout opponents because of his team’s talent and will play to win vs. Belgium: “Our mentality is to win every game we play in — we can’t be looking into that. I feel that if we keep winning, it builds momentum going into the tournament. We know Belgium is a top opponent and we need to be on our A game to get the win.”
England manager Gareth Southgate will make changes to his team to take on Belgium, yet he said he’s unlikely to shift from his three-man backline.
- 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
Why Bet on Belgium?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head Coach: Roberto Martínez
- Captain: Eden Hazard
- FIFA Ranking: 3
- World Cup Appearances: 13
Belgium trounced Panama 3-0 in its opener and then crushed Tunisia 5-2. No team has looked better. Against the Africans, Eden Hazard opened the scoring from the penalty spot (6) before Romelu Lukaku doubled their lead (16) with a tidy finish.
Dylan Bronn headed Tunisia back into the game (17) but Belgium always carried a huge threat in attack and Lukaku finished off a counter-attack to re-establish the two-goal cushion (45+3) with his fourth goal of the tournament.
When Lukaku netted twice against Tunisia to become the first player at a FIFA World Cup to score twice in two successive matches since Diego Maradona in 1986, Lukaku surely was hoping that it would be another 32 years before this feat was duplicated. Yet Kane notched the same achievement only a day afterward.
Lukaku has now scored more goals in major international tournaments (European Championship and World Cups) than any other Belgium player (7). Lukaku has scored 17 goals in his last 11 matches for Belgium, failing to score in just one of those matches (against Portugal earlier this month).
With Germany and Brazil struggling in their groups, there have been suggestions that finishing second in Group G may yield a more favorable path in the knockout stages. Southgate and Belgium manager Roberto Martinez have indicated that they will heavily rotate their teams to reduce the risk posed by injuries and suspensions.
Belgium has won each of their last six World Cup group stage matches, winning their last one in 2002, all three in 2014 and their opening two of this tournament.
Belgium is one of the teams that has spent the least amount of time on the training pitch as Martinez is well aware that many players have endued a long and heavy season. They have already received two full days off and have never trained more than once a day. Martinez has revealed he could rest all 10 of his outfield players against England, led by Lukaku.
Martinez insists it would be “very risky” and “unprofessional” to start his three players who are one game away from suspension – Kevin De Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen, and Thomas Meunier. And the Spaniard is almost certain to also rest Lukaku, who is recovering from an ankle knock.
Belgium has won just one of their 21 meetings with England (D5 L15) – a 3-2 victory in May 1936.
- 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
Expert Final Score Prediction
England 2 – Belgium 1 (assuming Belgium rests players)