World Cup 2018: Belgium v England
July 14, 2018 - The FIFA World Cup in Russia approaches its climax, with the two losing semi-finalists competing for third and fourth place. The play-off, hosted in Saint Petersburg, features tournament top goalscorers Belgium, with their team of creative talents, against England, who have exceeded national expectations under the calm guidance of coach Gareth Southgate.
Belgium began the group stage with impressive victories over Panama and Tunisia, before narrowly defeating a much-changed England side to top Group H. The Red Devils kept their World Cup hopes alive in the Last 16 with a remarkable comeback against Japan, recovering from a two-goal deficit before Nacer Chadli scored a last-gasp winner. Victory over five-time champions Brazil followed in the quarter-finals, as the undeniable talents of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne combined to realise their full potential in national colours. In the semi-finals, Belgium succumbed to a narrow defeat against European neighbours France.
England started their campaign with assured victories over Tunisia and Panama before losing to Belgium after resting several key players. The 1966 champions, captained by Golden Boot leader Harry Kane, conquered the persistence of Colombia in the Last 16 with their first penalty shoot-out victory in a major tournament since 1996. Aided by an inspired performance from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford the Three Lions overcame a stubborn Sweden side in the quarter-finals to reach only their third World Cup semi-final, and first since 1990. Despite defeat in the final four to Croatia, hopes are high that the young England side can realise their future potential, which has revitalised ambitions on the world stage.
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