Third-Place Prize is Little Consolation for Belgium or England

england

Martin Green

Thursday, July 12, 2018 2:53 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 12, 2018 2:53 PM UTC

Belgium and England will meet in the World Cup's third-place playoff match Saturday, but neither team is expected to be highly motivated in this contest.

Belgium vs. England (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)

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Belgium and England must pick themselves up after the disappointment of their World Cup semi-final defeats and rally for a third-place playoff clash. You should expect a somewhat muted atmosphere in this rather meaningless contest played out by two teams licking their wounds after falling at the penultimate hurdle. Grabbing third place is not much of a consolation prize and it is hard to imagine the players displaying great levels of motivation or desire in Saturday’s game.

These teams met in the group stage of the World Cup. Both had already accumulated six points and they were both assured of a place in the last 16, so they rested key players and fielded reserve teams. The Belgian reserve side beat England’s second 11 1-0 thanks to Adnan Januzaj’s second-half strike, but nobody really cared. In fact, England was happier, as it left them a much clearer path to the final. They surged past Colombia and Sweden to set up a semi-final with Croatia and the Three Lions were clear favorites to secure victory, but they flopped.

As a result of the victory in the earlier meeting, Belgium topped the group and went into a far tougher side of the draw. But Roberto Martinez’s men excelled. They produced a stirring comeback to beat Japan 3-2 in the last 16, then gave a performance for the ages as they toppled World Cup favorite Brazil in the quarter-finals. Yet they also stumbled in the semis, unable to find any joy against an extremely solid French defense. The players looked extremely deflated after that 1-0 defeat, but they can still end the tournament on an optimistic note by securing victory Saturday.

Gareth Southgate’s troops looked similarly crestfallen after slumping to that defeat at the hands of a rampant Croatian side. They should have been up 3-0 at halftime, but they were left to rue missed chances. Luka Modric gained a stranglehold on the game in the second period and English heads went down after Ivan Perisic fired in the equalizer. Big players went missing, the creative men looked shorn of ideas and they could ultimately have no complaints after succumbing to an extra-time strike from Mario Mandzukic.

Kieran Trippier had to leave the field due to cramp in extra time, while the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli looked absolutely shattered. Belgium did not go to extra time, and they will enjoy an extra day to recover, so that could ultimately tip this game in their favor. England struggled against Croatia’s wide players, Perisic and Ante Rebic, in the semi-final, and the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku could terrorize them down the flanks on Saturday. For that reason, Belgium looks like a pretty good bet to secure victory at +120 with Bet365. Most of the action is going on Martinez’s men and the odds are shortening, so it might be worth getting on them sooner rather than later if you fancy them to beat England again.

The English are out at +230, while the draw is +275. This is likely to be a pretty drab encounter, and "under" 2.5 goals might also appeal at +130 with Bet365. Kane has not scored in his last two games, Raheem Sterling has not scored all tournament and Dele Alli has only found the back of the net once, so Belgium’s towering defenders might like their chances of keeping that trio quiet.

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