As the ball looped over his shoulder, the referee was pulling the whistle to his lips. David Platt didn’t hesitate and volleyed home; England won 1 – 0 in the World Cup Round of Sixteen and Belgium has been waiting 28 years for revenge.
It’s here although by the time the two nations meet, it’s expected this match will decide the top two placings in the group. Or to look at it another way, who gets to the final by beating Brazil or Germany.
No easy task for either England or Belgium but the Red Devils are deemed the team most likely to succeed.
This is the golden generation of Belgian football; two years and one international tournament wiser. Widely regarded as the cream of European football and their key players are certainly lighting up the Premier League.
England vs Belgium betting
Belgium are just ahead of England in the World Cup betting markets. The winner outright in the England vs Belgium betting shows the Red Devils at 13/8 with the Three Lions at 15/8.
The draw at 2/1 is interesting; the attitude of the teams may come down to what has already gone before. Whoever has the worse goal difference must make the running if they want to take first place in the group.
It’s a tricky match to call. By this stage, both sides know the outcome decides the difficulty of their path in the latter rounds of the tournament. Brazil or Germany? England drew against both, although beaten by the latter as well in 2017. Interestingly, Belgium haven’t beaten either of the world superpowers since the mid-1950s.
But for the England vs Belgium betting, that information isn’t relevant. Certainly, you’d expect a cagey affair unless one side absolutely must win. The accepted norm of 2.5 goals is unlikely to be breached.
England are tight defensively at the moment. Gareth Southgate took the opportunity of the two friendlies against Germany and Brazil to use three at the back, to good effect although reading too much into those results is a dangerous game.
A better guide to the outcome might be Belgium’s fixtures against ‘bigger’ footballing nations. In the past two seasons, they have faced Spain, Netherlands, Greece and Mexico. Only against the latter two did the matches feature more than 2.5 goals.
In this instance, that brings odds of 17/20 on but under 2.5 goals can bring 111/100 in current England vs Belgium betting markets.
If there is to be a winner is the big question. Both countries expect to come into this match with nothing to lose; qualification should be assured so the answer comes down to which route to the final the nations prefer.
Once the first knockout round is negotiated – and both countries are capable of winning their ties – they face two routes to the final. One is deemed easier than the other although it’s a matter of interpretation.
That governs how this game will be approached. Both sides will ultimately be happy with a draw if it means they come through the group stage unscathed. To win the World Cup you must beat the best sides so either route to the final features difficult matches.
In this instance, a zero-goal winning margin is 11/5. If you prefer more specifics, there are different prices. A no-score draw is 54/13 while a score draw is 62/17, all at the time of writing.
In the event that one side needs a win there’s a sense this will not be a wild victory for anyone and a one-goal margin of victory is likeliest. 3/1 for Belgium and 10/3 for England in the current markets.
In previous group matches, it was the England players who caught the eye but such is Belgium’s array of talent, it’s two familiar faces to English fans who are likely to be pivotal to the outcome: Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.
The Chelsea striker is one of Europe’s most coveted forwards, Real Madrid regularly let it be known of their interest which is hardly surprising for a player who has scored 84 goals in 282 appearances for the defending Premier League champions.
More critically for this match, his 82 caps brought 24 goals to his tally. However, knowing the weaknesses of the English defenders allows his movement to bring in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku who has 31 goals in 65 caps or the less familiar Dries Mertens of Napoli whose 52 goals in 79 club appearances underline his formidable abilities.
Creatively, Manchester City’s De Bruyne is as vital to his country as he is his club. Well on the way to the Footballer of the Year awards in England, this is the tournament where he cements his reputation as one the world’s best midfielders.
For England, the key players are likely to be the unsung heroes, the unlikely sources. With counter-attack likely to be England’s best weapons, there is a strong case to think Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck will be a vital player. Fifteen goals in 36 caps is impressive for a player who fails to reach those heights at club level.
Equally, a surprise recall for Theo Walcott should not be ruled out. This is his last chance at a World Cup but moving to Everton is reigniting his career. With 47 caps to his name, it’s the experience England will find most useful. Lurking within the winger is the youngster who scored a hat-trick in Zagreb.
Bet on England vs Belgium – Match Prediction
A tough game to call with either side capable of winning. In qualifying, Belgium were free-scoring, grabbing 43 goals in their 10 games, scoring 8 against Estonia and 9 against Gibraltar.
England’s dour defensive displays against Brazil and Germany gave Gareth Southgate optimism that his side could shut up shop against the world’s elite. And Belgium fall into that category.
Those two matches point to how England will approach the game. A goalless draw is currently 10/1.