England vs Belgium
Thursday 28/06/2018 | 19:00 GMT | Kaliningrad Stadium
Both Gareth Southgate’s side and the Belgians have secured a place in the last 16, with only the winner of the group to be decided in Kaliningrad. The winners and runners-up will end up on different sides of the draw and could not meet again until the final. The winner of the match will top the group while in the event of a draw, disciplinary points will decide the group winner. England are currently ahead having picked up two yellow cards to Belgium’s three.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has already intimated he could make as many as nine changes for the game, but Gareth Southgate would not be drawn on how many he would make, despite confirming Eric Dier would make his first start. Southgate must also weigh up whether to select his captain Harry Kane, who remains the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals.
Dele Alli missed the win against Panama with a thigh strain, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing him, but Gareth Southgate resisted the urge to drop out-of-form Raheem Sterling – despite a leaked team sheet suggesting he would be absent. Southgate may choose to rotate a few players – with Marcus Rashford replacing Sterling one option, while Loftus-Cheek and Kyle Walker are both on yellow cards, meaning Gary Cahill, Alli or Fabian Delph could all feature to cut the risk of suspensions.
A stunning first-half performance saw England team blow Panama away in their second group game. John Stones opened the scoring with a brilliant header from a corner, before Harry Kane scored the first of two penalties when Jesse Lingard was bundled over. Lingard then scored the pick of the goals with a curling strike into the top corner, before a well-worked free-kick ended with Stones heading in his second goal. Kane dispatched another penalty after being wrestled to the ground from a penalty to give England a 5-0 half-time lead, and then completed his hat-trick after the break in bizarre circumstances when Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot deflected in off his heel (with him oblivious to where the ball was). As England took their foot off the gas, Panama did grab a late consolation but a place in the last 16 was never in doubt.
England are now unbeaten in their last 12 games and have won the last four of those after their strong start to the World Cup. Victories against Nigeria and Costa Rica set the tone in England’s pre-tournament friendlies, before a 2-1 win – thanks to Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner – against Tunisia in their first World Cup game. After hitting Panama for six last time out, England have now scored 12 times in their last four games – Kane scoring six of those. The last team to stop them winning was also the last European team they played, however – Italy, who drew 1-1 at Wembley in March.
Belgium football team have won six of their last seven matches and have not lost since 2016 – a run of 21 games without defeat. Their World Cup preparations started with a goalless draw against Portugal, before Egypt were beaten 3-0 and Costa Rica 4-1 to build momentum well. A 3-0 win against Panama kick-started their World Cup before they dispatched Tunisia with another big win.
A blistering start to the game saw Eden Hazard convert a penalty and Romelu Lukaku double the advantage before Dylan Bronn pulled a goal back for Tunisia. Lukaku restored the two-goal advantage in first-half stoppage time, and Hazard doubled his own tally on 51 minutes before both were substituted as Roberto Martinez took the opportunity to rest players. Michy Batshuayi came off the bench, missed a sitter and then scored the fifth goal before Wahbi Khazri got the final goal of the game to restore some credibility to the score line for Tunisia.
England have lost just twice in their previous 21 matches against Belgium – one of which was on penalties in a pre-France ’98 tournament. They have only faced the Red Devils once since the turn of the century, however – a 1-0 win at Wembley in June 2012, when Danny Welbeck scored the only goal of the game in a pre-Euro 2012 friendly.
England vs Belgium Betting Tips
|England vs Belgium||Both Teams to Score-Yes||2.0|
|England vs Belgium||Total Match Goals Over 2.5||2.5|