Belgium vs England preview, betting tips and prediction
Who will take Bronze in Saint Petersburg?
It is now official, football is not coming home this summer. England were sent packing from the World Cup by a talented and experienced Croatia side at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday evening. wing-back Kieran Trippier had given them a fifth minute lead with a well-placed freekick, but a second half strike from Ivan Perisic sent the game into extra time, where Mario Mandzukic scored to break hearts. While the Three Lions performed well above expectations by getting to the semi final, there is a sense that they have missed an opportunity to go all the way. But it must not be underestimated just how good Croatia are and while they now go onto face France in the final on Sunday, England must fulfil their obligation and play for third place striker Belgium, a side they have already lost to in Russia this summer.
The Red Devils were kept at bay for much of the game against France on Tuesday, and though Eden Hazard impressed in spurts, Kevin De Bruyne was particularly poor while Roberto Martinez got his tactics wrong, starting Marouane Fellaini in midfield and Nacer Chadli at right wing-back instead of the absent Thomas Meunier. It is unlikely either semi final will have a bearing on this match, though, because both Martinez and Gareth Southgate are likely to make wholesale changes and make use of the squad, just like they did in the final Group G match earlier in the tournament. Belgium have more strength in depth than England, and that should see them through in Saint Petersburg.
Because the sides could line up differently to normal, it is hard to suggest where the value in the goalscoring markets are concerned. Ordinarily, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku, two strikers very much in the hunt for the Golden Boot, would be our suggestions, but Michy Batshuayi and Marcus Rashford, at 6/4 and 5/2 anytime respectively, could be more likely candidates selection permitting.
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