Two countries that started the World Cup placed in the same Group G but took remarkably dissimilar paths through the knockout stages to get to the third place game. England finished second in the group after playing a reserve squad and losing to Belgium in the group finale. They then beat Colombia on penalty kicks in a contentious match. They proceeded to beat Sweden 2-0 in what was one of the easier wins in World Cup quarterfinals memory and then must feel as if they let a chance to make the final slip away. England were up 1-0 on Croatia for most of the game but let a late equalizer in after a momentary defensive lapse. In extra time England looked like they were playing not to lose and less to win and again had a momentary defensive lapse that gave up the winner to Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic.
Belgium won Group G with a perfect nine points from three played, then they beat Japan 3-2 getting a dramatic 94th minute winner from Nacer Chadli and overcoming a second half 2-0 deficit to win in regulation. They followed that up with a historic 2-1 win over tournament favorite Brazil and then just fell short 1-0 to a really good France team in the semifinals. While England might feel they let a World Cup final berth slip away, the Belgian players have to be proud of their run.
World Cup Third Place Match
Belgium vs. England
Time: 7:00 AM
Location: Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg
TV: FOX (English) and Telemundo (Spanish)
Announcing team: JP Dellacamera and Tony Meola (English)
It’s not often that two opponents play twice in the same World Cup with so little on the line each time. But Russia 2018 has provided! Belgium will suit up against England for the second time this tournament after their Group G finale that saw England play a reserve heavy squad and lose 1-0, thus securing the more coveted spot in the lower half of the knockout draw.
The biggest prize on the line in this match might not be the third place medal, but the Golden Boot. England’s Harry Kane is the odds on favorite right now with six goals, but Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is his nearest competitor with four goals. Neither Kane now Lukaku played when these teams faced each other in the group stage.
Third place matches can be strange affairs as a teams motivation can vary widely. Who can forget Brazil’s “I have no intention of being here, why are we playing this game” effort against the Netherlands in their 3-0 loss on home soil in 2014? In 2006 and 2010, the Germans won third place medals which clearly set them up for victory in 2014, right? Turkey beat South Korea in South Korea 3-2 in a spirited game in 2002 while Croatia earned their best World Cup finish before tomorrow defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in France ‘98. And who can forget the first ever World Cup third place match when the United States beat Yugoslavia to finish third? Well we all can, as that did not happen. There was no third place match in Uruguay 1930 but FIFA has retroactively awarded the USA third place and Yugoslavia fourth determined by results throughout the competition.