Whenever two European sides clash at the World Cup there’s always plenty of hype, and this match should live up to expectations. Both nations boast considerable talent, and the fact that almost the entire first team squad of both teams are regulars in the English Premier League, this match is perhaps the closest we will get to a Premier League All Star fixture, ironically a suggestion by Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku.
The Manchester United striker will be joined by the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in the attacking half of the pitch, while they almost have too many reputable centre-backs to bolster their defences – try fitting Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen in the same lineup.
It’s ironic that England boast fewer superstars from their own domestic league, though there’s no doubting the quality of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, both who are almost certain starters. While they have had a couple of injury setbacks recently – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez come to mind – their squad is powerful and should be good enough to match it with Belgium.
England can look to their excellent record against their close neighbours as inspiration for a potential victory here. They have only lost twice to the Belgians, and avoiding defeat here may be enough for them to finish atop Group G. This of course will all depend on the earlier results, although you would have to think the pair will have easily beaten Panama and Tunisia.
Context is always a factor in the third group stage matches. If for some reason one of these teams has dropped points (England don’t exactly have the best big tournament record), then they are more likely to field a full-strength squad. If both teams are assured of qualification, we may see some of the reserves take the field, which will greatly alter the most likely result. Be sure to await confirmation of the lineups before betting on this one.
As it stands, and regardless of context, all three results are a firm possibility in this match. Belgium will start as the slight favourite, paying +150, while England are at +188 and the draw is available for +219. This about sums up the chances of both teams, and we’re finding it difficult to pick a winner here. A draw will likely suit each team, and that is therefore our pick.
As far as goals go, both sides were strong during qualifying and we can definitely see both teams scoring. If the result does not matter, we could even see a few goals, so we’re going with a 2-2 final score.
When: Thursday, Jun 28 (2pm ET)
Where: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
TV: FOX, Telemundo*