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Belgium 0-0 England

Belgium 0-0 England

But, unfortunately for the Three Lions, it won't be coming home in 2018 after they surrendered a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Croatia in their semi-final tie on Wednesday. In the group stage, both teams had already qualified before Belgium's 1-0 win in Kaliningrad. Belgium's Romelu Lukaku is two goals behind Kane, but whether Belgium Manager Robert Martinez will choose to start Lukaku in the consolation game is unclear.

With reasons for both sides to compete, surely this match will be more exciting than the teams' earlier meeting in the final game of the group stage.

MF Eric Dier, 7 - Looked nearly certain to be overwhelmed in midfield as Belgium dominated the first half, and was not ambitious enough with his passing. Belgium can take pride in achieving its best-ever finish in a World Cup, but unlike England, youth is not necessarily on this team's side.

There was a Premier League feel to this third-place playoff, with only three players among the 22 starters not plying their trade in England.

Belgium's Thomas Meunier (L) scores the opening goal in a 2-0 win against England.

Eric Dier's low drive was comfortable for Thibaut Courtois and Dier then had a dinked shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Tottenham team-mate Toby Alderweireld. Lukaku aside, Belgium are expected to name a mixed starting line-up of first-choice and fringe players.

Belgium and Croatia are easily the best sides England have faced at this tournament, yet in large parts, the off-ball movement was too static, passing options have been easily plugged while the possession pointless and without plan or penetration. Belgium's back line has been able to clear the danger easily.

12 minute: Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne picks up a pass from Lukaku but goalkeeper Pickford saves it. The only significance of the match was to decide who will finish as group toppers and runner-ups.

Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium): How England desperately need a player like the Manchester City magician.

There's a distinct difference between patient and methodical build-up play and lethargically recycling the ball between your centre-halves on the halfway line with nobody able to offer an easy ball. The ensuing corner was a training ground play, but Alderweireld shot goes over the bar.

It will also give captain Harry Kane a chance to secure his place as the tournament's top scorer, and become England's first Golden Boot victor since Gary Lineker at Mexico 1986.

28' - Meunier fed a risky cross to the box as Pickford was off his line.

Gary Lineker would like to remind you that the English arrogance was all an elaborate ruse, by the way, and in no way indicative of any actual beliefs of England winning the whole tournament. Typically, soccer obliged to an unfathomable extent, delivering a multitude of goalscoring records that still stand, including: highest per-game average (5.38!), highest team goal total and goal difference (Hungary, 27 and plus-17), and highest for and against total by a victor (West Germany, 25 and 14).

Belgium full-back Thomas Meunier, who missed the semifinal against France through suspension, has vowed the Red Devils want to end their campaign in Russian Federation on a high. There should be a change on the opposite flank as well, with Danny Rose replacing Ashley Young, who has enjoyed a solid World Cup campaign thus far.


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