St. Petersburg: A match that no team wants to be part of playoff for the third place. Deflated England and Belgium will nonetheless want to end their FIFA World Cup campaign somewhat on a high on Saturday. England were left in the lurch after a gut-wrenching 1-2 defeat at the hands of Croatia after extra-time.
Aiming a shot at the second World Cup triumph, Gareth Southgate’s wards fell short despite taking a fifth minute lead through Keiran Trippier. On Saturday, they will take on a side they lost to in the group stages albeit both teams played their second teams.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium, who were beaten 0-1 by France in the last-four stage, topped Group G ahead of England after an Adnan Januzaj goal proved to be decisive. England will aim to achieve their best finish since they won the competition in 1966. For Belgium, who have a collection of world class players, a win would be the nation’s best result at the World Cup. They finished fourth in 1986. For the record, European teams have claimed the third place in the past nine World Cups.
A sub-plot to the third place tie is the race to be the top-scorer in the tourney. England skipper Harry Kane is atop the charts with six goals to his name but Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is just two goals behind him in the race for the Golden Boot.
With one more goal Kane would become the highest scorer in the World Cup since 2002, when Brazil’s Ronaldo struck eight times, including twice in the final, as the South American heavyweights bagged a record fifth title. The Tottenham Hotspur star forward would be just the second England player to scoop the award, after Gary Lineker was the top scorer in 1986.