Preview: Belgium v England

Belgium and England will be playing for pride in their World Cup 2018 third/fourth play-off clash at Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Saturday.

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2018 FIFA World Cup

14 July 2018

Third/fourth play-off

Kick-off: 16:00 (GMT+2)

Venue: Saint-Petersburg Stadium

Referee: Alireza Faghani

Previous encounter:

England 0-1 Belgium (2018 World Cup) 28/06/2018

Belgium goalscorer: A. Januzaj (51′)

FIFA World Cup prediction: England V Belgium

Players to watch:

Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne were both excellent at times for Belgium during the 2018 World Cup. The Chelsea man scored two and made two while his Manchester City compatriot weighed in with one goal. However, when this duo are inspired they can rip apart any defence and will be eyeing a double over England at this year’s global showpiece.

Marcus Rashford could well be the Three Lions’ standout performer against Belgium if afforded a start. The Manchester United winger has been excellent when introduced from the bench, and England may well have made it to the final of the World Cup had he been brought on against Croatia in the semi-final ahead of their late equalising goal.

Team form and manager quotes:

Both sides were in inspired form throughout the tournament until their semi-final near misses. While Belgium won all of their games en route to their 2-1 loss to finalists France, England’s only group match loss came at the hands of the Red Devils, although the result proved to be meaningless, before their exit in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in extra-time.

Both managers also made significant changes, and effectively played their ‘B’ sides for their game.

The two teams had earlier in the group stage beaten Panama and Tunisia with Belgium then knocking out Japan and Brazil.

Gareth Southgate’s charges, meanwhile, saw off Colombia in the round of 16 and Sweden in the quarter-finals.

The nations are expected to make some changes to their side, with England carrying a number of injuries.

Ahead of the game, Southgate said: “I think a physical part of that is going to have a huge bearing. We only have a two-day recovery and I’m sure some of the guys won’t be able to get out there.

“I would be really surprised if Kieran Trippier is out there, Ashley Young too. Jordan Henderson is also feeling his hamstring. So we will have to make changes and do what’s right. But we’ll assess them before picking a team.”

Martinez, meanwhile, said he won’t make wholesale alterations as he looks to end his tournament on a high.

He explained: “I am not going to make changes now to give certain players opportunities because they have already received them against England.

“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.”

Team news:

Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young and Jordan Henderson are all injury doubts for England while Belgium has a fully fit squad to choose from.