Tuesday, January 19, 2021

England vs Belgium Preview | Third Place Playoff

The World Cup dreams for these two sides may have come to an end earlier this week, however the position of third place remains undecided. Belgium and England will play for the second time this tournament to confirm the occupants of final spot on the podium.

England

English dreams were cruelly shattered as they fell to the rampant Croatia earlier this week, causing ‘Three Lions’ chants to cease and bringing an end to an incredible campaign. Prior to this defeat, England had enjoyed their first World Cup penalty win along with an incredibly 6-1 victory against Panama among other achievements.

Throughout their campaign, many younger, inexperienced players were given a chance to flourish. These include the wing-back Kieran Trippier, who has arguably been England’s most impressive player this summer. In fact, the defensive unit as a whole has been the best aspect of the team throughout this campaign. Harry Maguire and John Stones were mainly solid at the back, whilst also playing a valuable role in set-piece offense.

The main downfall of the team, however, lies in their midfield. The Three Lions lack the strong midfield boasted by Croatia, leaving them vulnerable to their tactic of dominating possession and limiting them to sparse counter-attacks. England need to be careful not to allow this to happen again against Belgium here.

Belgium

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku

Belgium enjoyed an incredibly strong start to their World Cup campaign. They won three games out of three in their group, including an incredibly 5-2 trouncing of Tunisia. The Red Devils continued this momentum to the next round, with an incredible comeback win against Japan after their elimination seemed all but confirmed.

Many pundits and fans alike believed that Belgium would fall to Brazil in their quarter-final fixture. Nevertheless, the side remained strong and outlasted the South Americans to win this fixture by two goals to one. Ultimately, however, the Belgians fell victim to the wrath of an incredibly talented French team. It could even be argued that this side played the better football in this game. With this in mind, Belgium will be looking to redeem their promising campaign against England.

The Lazy Fan Prediction

It is important to note that Belgium were the victors in the group-stage fixture between these two games. However, it is equally important to account for the large number of backup players featuring in this fixture. When both teams are at full force, a different story could be prevalent. However, given the strength of this Belgian team, I predict that third place goes to the Red Devils here.

Also, my predictions tend to always go the complete opposite way. Three Lions forever. 

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