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England And Belgium Meet Again For World Cup Consolation Prize

TOPSHOT - Players vie for the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Belgium at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 28, 2018. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

England face Belgium in the World Cup third-place play-off on Saturday with the tournament’s top scorer Harry Kane eyeing the chance to add to his six goals in the meeting of the beaten semi-finalists.

Both teams will line up in Saint Petersburg with a sense of what might have been as France and Croatia prepare for Sunday’s final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, but they will want to leave Russia on a high.

Tottenham’s Kane has the chance to become just the second England player after Gary Lineker in 1986 to win the Golden Boot, joining luminaries such as Brazil’s Ronaldo, Germany’s Gerd Mueller and Portugal’s Eusebio.

Kane, 24, came into the tournament after another prolific season for Spurs and started with a bang, scoring two goals in his first match against Tunisia and a hat-trick against Panama.

But he failed to find the net against Croatia in Wednesday’s semi-final as England agonisingly let a 1-0 lead slip to lose 2-1.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku has four goals in Russia, with the French pair of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe both on three.

England manager Gareth Southgate admitted the challenge of preparing for the bronze medal game has been tough, saying he would make changes.

“It won’t be exactly the same starting XI but ideally we want to make as few changes as possible,” he said. “We have the chance to win a medal at the World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.”

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 13: Head coach Gareth Southgate of England National team during pre-match press conference between Belgium and England at the FIFA World Cup 2018 at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, Russia, Friday, July 13, 2018.  (Photo by Anatoliy Medved/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Southgate is determined to paint a positive picture of England’s tournament, despite the agony of missing out on their first final since 1966.

“It’s been an incredible experience, a life experience,” he said. “We talked as a group of players and staff that we wanted to create memories which would be with us forever, and friendships which would last forever.”

“We have a chance to win a medal, we have a chance to give the best-ever performance on foreign soil from an English team.”

For Belgium, a third-place finish would represent their best-ever performance at a World Cup, after they finished fourth in Mexico in 1986.

Despite boasting the attacking prowess of Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, Roberto Martinez’s men fell short in their semi-final against France, losing 1-0.


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.