After a fantastic run to the Semi-Finals, the dream is over for both England and for Belgium. It’s a major blow to come so close yet be so far, but the Third Place Play-Off tie should really help to settle the podium finish for both sides here in Russia.
Expect the Belgians to rest a few of their players. Romelu Lukaku knows he needs a hat-trick to get the Golden Boot, which would be highly unlikely at this point. Eden Hazard also knows that another good performance would put him alongside Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric for the Golden Ball.
With a long season to come, though, don’t expect many of the major starters to play here. we expect people like Axel Witsel and Vincent Kompany to play, but key player like Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Toby Alderweireld will likely sit this one out.
For the Three Lions, the chance exists to give a few of the other players a chance. Expect to see Danny Rose and Trent Alexander-Arnold come in on the flanks, with the back three maintaining a semblance of consistency.
Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane will likely play up-top, too, with Eric Dier replacing Jordan Henderson in the midfield. Jesse Lingard will get the chance to finish off a strong campaign, while Fabian Delph will get to sign off on what has been a very good year for him personally with another game here.
While it does not really matter, we expect an English win. Belgium came to the tournament wanting to win it, and will feel gutted by their loss. England just wanted to have a good time, and can go home knowing they managed to achieve that and then some: they will be far more likely to be up for it here.
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