England play Belgium in the fight for the third place of the World Cup 2018 in Russia. The match could dictate which side qualifies for the knockout stages as group winner. Sportsbooks have given Belgium the favourites’ tag, but England won’t be an easy side to overcome against the Three Lions.
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The match will be a battle of two managers trying to make their marks on international football. Gareth Southgate has improved England from the last World Cup, while questions still abound about Belgium’s Roberto Martinez and his effect on the team.
England v Belgium match winner predictions
Our bet: Belgium to win the match Odds: 7/5*
Belgium’s squad is littered with world-class players that Martinez will call on for the World Cup. Since World Cup qualifying began in 2016, Belgium are undefeated.
Martinez’s team go into this year’s tournament with a slight edge in talent over England. Every position on the pitch for Belgium has an equivalent or better player than the English.
The Belgian squad is also much deeper than Southgate’s reserves. While Southgate has Harry Kane to score goals, the forwards on the bench offer few certainties for England. Belgium can call on the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard or Michy Batshuayi to get goals. In addition, Belgium have players playing around the world gaining experience that England’s squad just doesn’t have. All of England’s players ply their trades in the Premier League. There is no diversity in style or experiences. Belgium’s players are that much better for having varying club experiences.
Four years ago, England didn’t win a game at the World Cup. Roy Hodgson’s team crashed out in the group stage. Belgium made the quarterfinals and the team should be even more confident this time around.
Who will score during the game
Our bet: Kevin De Bruyne (Odds: *)
The Manchester City star is coming off of a season in which he tallied 12 goals and 21 assists in 52 matches. He was slated to win the English PFA Player of the Year Award; however, Mohamed Salah’s last three months of the season took the award away.
De Bruyne will be at the heart of Belgium’s attack. Since debuting with the Belgian national team, De Bruyne has tallied 14 goals in 59 matches. He will be familiar with the English style having spent the last few seasons at Manchester City. De Bruyne plays against England’s players regularly, and it will help him tally a goal against Southgate’s team.
Number of goals
Our bet: 3 (Odds: 3/1*)
England versus Belgium will be the final group stage match for both sides. The winner will most likely take top spot in the group. Therefore, it will be in both nations’ interest to win and go all-out to score. The fixture will see both teams score, but Belgium will get the upper-hand with a decisive goal in a 2-1 win.
Our bet: Fewer than 3.5 goals (Odds: 1/3*)
The fixture should be cagey as neither team will want to lose. Once again, the victor will win Group G. After a slow start, the fixture should open up with both nations scoring. However, Belgium will get a decisive second goal to win. The Belgian’s defence will be too good for England to find another as Martinez’s back line shut downs the game.
*All the odds mentioned in this article are correct or unavailable at the moment of publication.