NO, football is not coming home!
Sadly, football is heading elsewhere, again.
With the allure of World Cup glory far from England and Belgium, both teams will be looking to bow out of the tournament with their heads held high as they compete for third place.
The third-place playoff is a match no team wants to play in, but important milestones remain on the line for the two teams involved.
England will be on a twin mission: one, to revenge the 1 – 0 defeat to Belgium in the Group leader decider match a few weeks ago; two, to surpass England’s second-best finish at a World Cup. They lost to the host, Italy in 1990 in the third-place play off game in Bari. They will want to win and console themselves with the silverware.
Meanwhile, deflated Belgium will as well aim to win. A win will be the nation’s best result at the World Cup. They finished fourth in 1986.
Another interesting part to the third-place tie is the race to be the top-scorer in the tourney. England skipper Harry Kane is atop the charts with six goals to his name while Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is just two goals behind him in the race for the Golden Boot.
Eden Hazard vs. Danny Rose
Belgium’s captain Eden Hazard will try to lead the nation to their nation’s best result at the World Cup. He criticized their defensive approach against France but he’s been exceptional at this World Cup and will be looking to lead his team to one last victory.
Hazard might be faced with Ashley Young but Young was once again replaced towards the end of the last match against Croatia and with no more games remaining Gareth Southgate might be tempted to start Danny Rose for more attack.
Rose will have a tough job to make Hazard less impactful in the game. He will also offer added vigour and pace. So he is probably Southgate’s best option for this duel.
Harry Kane Vs Vincent Kompany
Highest goal scorer in the tournament so far and England’s captain, Harry Kane will be on the go for a goal and win!
He looked more frustrated in the semi-finals match against Croatia after he lost a clear-cut chance. He has only scored once in the knockout games.
He needs to score in this play-off match, not only to win the Golden Boot but also to equals Gary Lineker’s England record for goals scored at a single tournament which would round off a great tournament for him.
Kane’s hopes and aspirations would be a no-no for Belgium Vincent Kompany.
The duo aren’t new enemies neither is the fight a new one between them. They are adversaries when it comes to club football.
Kompany might announce his retirement from international football after this game, so his last duty and obligation might be to keep Kane away from achieving the milestone.
Kevin De Bruyne vs Jordan Henderson
Should Jordan Henderson retain his spot at the heart of the England midfield he will be facing it off with the Belgian playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne.
Although the playmaker has not been so amazing in this tournament compared to his performances at Manchester City last season, yet Henderson won’t find it soft keeping him off the game.
England suffered a low possession game against Croatia because Croatia played high up the field in the semi-final and made it very difficult for Henderson to find space. His lack of space made it difficult for England to build any kind of attack along the ground.
If Belgium will follow the same pattern with De Bruyne, England will have to find a new avenue of build up play or face another difficult game.
This duo has the highest tendencies to decide the play-off match!