World Cup Preview – Third Place Play-Off | England v Belgium

England and Belgium are both looking to finish on a high as they square off in the World Cup third place play-off on Saturday.

The two nations meet for the second time at the finals, having already faced each other in the group stages.

Both teams played under-strength sides as they were already guaranteed qualification, although it was Belgium who claimed the 1-0 win.

Roberto Martinez made nine changes last time against England, but he won’t be repeating that as Belgium aim to finish third, and beat their best performance at a World Cup to-date when they finished fourth in 1986.

“I am not going to make changes now to give certain players opportunities because they have already received them against England,” said Martinez.

“Any change will be to make the team stronger. It’s a game we need to play at a good level and we need to have fresh legs.

“But the players are still very fresh mentally. Even the most important players that have completed a lot of minutes, I’ve seen them fresh and looking forward to the game.”

England also made a number of changes last time against Belgium, but Three Lions chief Gareth Southgate is unsure how many new faces he will bring in.

“Everyone wants to play but sometimes it is not a good decision to play someone if their energy is not there. It won’t be the same XI but we want to make as few changes as possible,” he said.

“We have high motivation to perform. We have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.

“There is a lot of motivation for us and Belgium have already beaten us, so we would like to address that as well.

“Emotionally it has been a difficult few days but the players are incredible. They are a pleasure to work with. They have an energy and desire.

“We want to finish the tournament well. We have set a standard of how we work and how we play.”

See below for a preview on the game, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

France 15:00 Belgium
St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg


Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli, Thomas Meunier; Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku​

England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane.​

KEY FACT: These two are the first teams to play each other twice at the same World Cup since Turkey played Brazil two times in 2002
Match odds from bet365: BELGIUM 5/4 DRAW 11/4 ENGLAND 11/5
bet365 Pick: Over 3.5 goals @5/4
ANDY SAYS: I am going with Gareth and the boys to end on a high and claim third spot….1-2
GRAEME SAYS: I think Belgium will picked a full team and grab the win…2-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Kevin De Bruyne – proved in the semis how good he is, he still has value here

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