THE World Cup comes to its conclusion this weekend. Belgium and England have little time to come to terms with disappointment as they meet in St Petersburg to battle for third-place. Glenn Scurfield (@gscurftrader) shares his best bets ahead of Saturday.
Belgium v England | Saturday 14th July 2018, 15:00 | ITV
The semi-finals saw devastating defeats for both sides respectfully, with the fine margins the difference. However, the data suggests the better team ultimately won in both encounters. The final in Moscow this Sunday should be remarkable.
England took the lead through a wonderful Kieran Trippier free-kick, but went into half-time having only produced an xG count of 0.35.
Croatia didn’t create much more in the opening 45, yielding an xG of just 0.17. Gareth Southgate’s side were comfortable going into the break.
Unfortunately, it was an error-riddled second half from the young Lions. The Croatian pressure was a continuous, with Luka Modríc and Ivan Rakitić narrating. Ivan Perišić continued to trouble England’s defensive line, and it was he who found the net to level things up.
With both sides out on their feet, Croatia ultimately seized their chance as Mario Mandzukic slammed home. The better team progressed as Croatia ended the game with an xG count of 2.09 compared to England’s 0.73.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium will be experiencing heartache very similar to that of the English. Belgium ended their defeat to France with an xG total of just 0.53.
Despite the obvious talent on show, they created very little. Conversely, France registered an xG count of 2.12, the most of any of the four semi-finalists within 90.
Tiredness to show
England don’t have the legs of N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi to thwart Belgium, and so if the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Dries Mertens get the nod, it could be a long afternoon for Southgate’s side this Saturday.
We can question the motivation of both sides. The FA will value a third-place finish, but the physical and mental excursions of Wednesday and the day less rest could take it’s toll. This game may have come around too quickly for England.