By: Jason Green
Date: Thursday June 28th
Match Odds: England +160 / Belgium +190 / Draw +210
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
England and Belgium are already in the knockout stage, but which team will win the group? Each squad is a little lucky, as in the first match in the knockout stage they will be facing Japan, Senegal, or Columbia, who are in Group H, and they will surely be favorites in those matches.
Both team have two wins in two matches and both teams have scored eight goals so far in the Tournament. Two of the player vying for the Golden Boot are playing in this match, as England Harry Kane leads the Tournament with five goals and Belgium’s Romelu LUkaku has Four goals.
To say Belgium has not had much success against England would be an understatement. In the 21 all-time meetings they have won just once, back in 1936, lost 15 times and played to a draw five times.
It will be interesting to see which lineup manager Gareth Southgate sends on the pitch, as he has hinted he may rest some key players. Kane may be one of those players and he had a hat trick in the 6-1 win over Panama in England’s last match.
For Belgium LUkaku and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard may miss the match, as they are each dealing with minor injuries. There are also three players, including Kevin De Bruyne and Thomas Meunier, who have yellow cards coming into the last group match, so if they get one more they cannot play in the round of 16 match. Because of that they may rest as well. That will hurt the squad, as De Bruyne is the leader in the midfield where his squad has the advantage over England.
Belgium beat Tunisia 5-2 in their last match even though they lost the time of possession battle (51% to 49%). They still had many more shots on target and LUkaku had two goals. The “Golden Generation” for Belgium is in full swing, but they may not be at full strength and England has looked great in the Tournament.
The Three Lions beat Panama 6-1 in their last match where they dominated from the whistle. Their midfield played great all match and took control early in terms of time of possession. By the time the first half whistle blew England was ahead 5-0.
The English look to have the advantage in this match, as it is likely they will not be facing the best starting 11 from Belgium. Still, they need to play their Game, especially in the midfield, and pressure Belgium up front. For Belgium, their MF play is also key since they may be without their top two strikers. They may take a more defensive approach to this match. The club did give up two goals in their last match facing Tunisia after a clean sheet in their opener.
Last Three Matches
6/7/2018 England 2 Costa Rica 0 (Friendly)
6/18/18 Tunisia 1 England 2 (World Cup)
6/24/18 England 6 Panama 1 (World Cup)
6/11/18 Belgium 4 Costa Rica 1 (Friendly)
6/18/18 Belgium vs. Panama (World Cup)
6/23/18 Belgium 5 Tunisia 2 (World Cup)
Prediction: This one is a tough call with so many key players question marks for both teams. While each has lit up the scoreboard in the Tournament don’t look for that to happen in this match. Both teams will play defensively and scoring chances will be few and far between. However, they will break through and the match will end in a 1-1 tie.