BELGIUM v ENGLAND
Live on ITV. Saturday July 14, kick-off 3pm
IT'S the match nobody really wants to play in having been one step away from competing in the biggest event in world sport. For these two that’s what’s having to happen as they compete in the 3/4th place play-off.
They have already met during the group stages with Belgium running out 1-0 winners but that was played in unusual circumstances with both sides already through to the knockout stages and as a result it was a match played by the reserves.
Although getting to the World Cup semi-finals is no mean feat and should be acknowledged, there is certainly a stark contrast in how they progressed. Belgium having already defeated England came from 2-0 down to beat Japan 3-2 then produced probably the best 45-minute display by any side at the World Cup, knocking out tournament favourites Brazil in the quarter-finals. It didn’t get any easier for them as they then faced an ever improving French side which was a bridge too far as they lost narrowly 1-0.
Its been a good tournament for the Belgians and they can be pleased with how they have performed, especially Hazard who has been one of the standout players of the tournament.
England certainly exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-finals and manager Gareth Southgate can take plenty of positives from his young team's performance – I don’t think they were as exceptional as the English media would lead us to believe though.
You can only beat what’s put in front of you and they did that against Colombia and Sweden. What an opportunity they had against Croatia and at half-time they looked destined for the final, they controlled the first half and never looked in any danger. But they just didn’t turn up in the second half and were equally as poor in extra time which was a real shame as I, like many, genuinely believed they would have beaten Croatia.
This isn’t the easiest match to call but with no pressure on either side and both likely to field strong teams it should be a far more entertaining game than what was served up in the groups stages. England been averaging 6 corners per match and I can see then getting that again tomorrow.
- 4+ corners each half (5-6, Skybet)
- Hazard (13-2, Unibet)
- Belgium 2, England 2 (11-1, Skybet)
- Most goals second half
- Fellaini to be booked
- Belgium double chance
- (9-1, bet365)