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World Cup Third Place Playoff | England v Belgium | Preview and Odds

Widely regarded as a bit of a dead rubber, there are only bragging rights at stake for England and Belgium in their third place play-off match this Saturday at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

There was only one goal separating the winners from the losers in each nation’s semi-final, with Belgium falling 1-0 to France, while England were beaten 2-1 by Croatia after extra-time, despite having gone ahead just five minutes into the game.

Kieran Trippier’s pinpoint free-kick gave the Three Lions and their early lead but in the end they were unable to see the game through, and now face Roberto Martinez’s side in a game of pride.

Our football betting expert has run through some of the best bets of the tournament’s penultimate fixture.

Semi-final disappointment can spur both sides on

Despite the bronze medal match being somewhat of an anti-climax, these two teams have been on fine footballing form and, given that the 2018 World Cup matches with the most goals, most attempts and most bookings have all involved Belgium, we can expect a fair amount of entertainment on Saturday.

Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku are virtually guaranteed starters, with the pair sitting in first and second place respectively in the race for the Golden Boot, with the England man currently on a tally of six, compared to Lukaku’s four.

The Belgian frontman is a highly attractive 4/1 to score either the first or the last goal of the game and when you take into account his two-goal deficit, it’s hard to imagine that his teammates won’t be going hammer and tong to provide him with the opportunities.

The Manchester United striker is backed up by a wealth of talent in midfield which sees Belgium go into the game as the favourites, at 11/10 with Grosvenor Sport.

This may also be in part due to Belgium having been spared extra-time in their semi-final, so they should go inti the game feeling a lot fresher than their opponents and, as a result, are unlikely to make too many changes to their starting line-up.

However, Thomas Meunier is expected to return to the XI after missing out against France due to suspension.

 

Tired legs could see England struggle

England will feeling the burn more, having played for longer and most recently. It’s seems as though Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker and are all doubts, which will fill the Belgians with confidence.

However, Gareth Southgate’s side have a good bench to turn to, with fringe players Fabien Delph, Danny Welbeck and Trent Alexander-Arnold all eager to play their part this weekend if given the chance.

England’s new fan favourite Jordan Pickford is likely to start in goal, but the manager may see the game as an opportunity to give second choice keeper Jack Butland some minutes.

With these injury doubts and potentially a different man between the sticks, England’s opponents will look to capitalise on what could be a leaky defence and, at 11/1, it could be worth taking a punt on a 2-0 Belgium win.

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