The 2018 World Cup enters its final weekend, and it begins with the world’s biggest consolation match. Both Belgium and England wish they could be walking out onto the field in Moscow on Sunday, but due to crushing losses in the semifinals, they will instead fight it out for 3rd place.
Belgium started out the tournament on fire, racking up tons of goals and winning each match until the semifinals. In the process, they beat Panama, Tunisia, England, Japan, and Brazil. They lost their first match of the tournament on Tuesday, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of France.
England only had one loss throughout the tournament, that being the 1-0 loss to Belgium in their final group stage match. They beat Tunisia, Panama, Colombia and Sweden before dropping 2-1 to Croatia in the semifinals.
What to watch for
Who will take this match seriously? 3rd place in the world isn’t bad. When Belgium and England faced each other in the group stage, it was after both teams had qualified and the match wasn’t the best as both teams looked to just hold and not pick up any injuries. This match is one that neither team wants to be in, but the stakes are much higher. The winner gets a bronze medal and $1.85 million. Who wants their names etched in the history books?
Belgium should open up their attack. The matches that Belgium won during this tournament came when their attack was wide open, with wonderful passes to players in open space to run. When Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne create the space to run and send it forward to Romelu Lukaku to finish, it’s magic. For Belgium to have the edge, they should move the ball forward and find a way to get that attack flying.
England needs to finish their chances. England could have been in the World Cup final, and they know it. They didn’t finish some key chances and because of that, they allowed Croatia to get back into the match and, eventually, win it in extra time. England only finished with 22 total shots, and the only one on target was Kieran Trippier’s majestic free kick in the 5th minute. Against Belgium in the group stage, they had 15 shots. How many on target? You guessed it: one. You can’t expect to win with just one shot on frame. England had their chances in both their losses. To earn that bronze medal, they have to finish their chances when they get them. Otherwise, they’ll allow Belgium to hang around until the end, and that could cost England a chance to bring a bronze medal home.
How to Watch
Belgium vs. England
Location: Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg
Kick-off time: Saturday, July 14th, 10:00am Eastern, 7:00am Pacific
Available TV: Fox (English), Telemundo (Spanish)