I must admit, I’ve always hated the 3rd-place playoffs in the soccer World Cup. When a nation has been so close to winning the tournament, playing that extra game makes little sense.
Sure, it has probably made a difference to some countries in World Cup history, but this is the exception.
Most of the time, the grief of the lost opportunity is the leading emotion for the two teams that didn’t make the final, and this game is simply an agonizing experience that brings nothing positive. In my opinion, it’s time to remove it.
Still, there will be a 3rd-place playoff in 2018, and Belgium will face England. Both teams will still be devastated by the close semifinals loss but will have to find the motivation to play one more time in the Russia World Cup.
As always, I will take a closer look at the betting odds and try to find some value.
Belgium vs. England Betting Odds
Here are the mainstream markets offered for the soccer World Cup match between Belgium and England.
Belgium is the slight favorite for 3rd place according to the bookies, and I can see where this is coming from. The team looked stronger for most of the competition and has more potential than England, at least on paper.
On top of that, the two teams already met in the group stage, and Belgium won 1-0. Sure, both sides were already in the last 16 and rested plenty of players, but it still counts.
I understand the arguments behind the odds, but I’m not sure they include the most important factor – the motivation of the teams. This is the single most decisive aspect of every 3rd-place playoff in World Cup history so far.
We’ve seen the much worse teams dominate in this match, simply because their opponent doesn’t care what happens. In fact, establishing which team will show more ambition will be the main purpose of this preview.
I have to mention that the goals market makes sense, too. Usually, there are plenty of them in the 3rd-place playoffs, as the pressure is off. Since both teams have scored plenty of goals so far in the World Cup, this is even more logical for this particular clash.
Belgium – A Real Chance Gone Begging
We all know this Belgian team has been exceptional for years when it comes to the talent the country has at its disposal. And yet, the side was unable to do something truly special.
In many tournaments so far, Belgium has looked more like a group of individuals than a team that works together.
I think this soccer World Cup is the first competition that showed cohesion and togetherness in the Belgian squad. The country was one of the best in the World Cup and won five games in a row, including a victory against Brazil, to reach the last 4.
This alone is an impressive achievement that ties the best performance of the country in the history of the tournament.
However, I don’t think this will bring much joy to the team, as they had the chance to go further.
France is one of the few squads that probably has more depth and is more balanced. The side managed to tactically outplay Belgium by keeping it tight and hitting on the counter.
The game was really close, but France managed to contain the strong Belgian attack in the second half. There were barely any chances once the score was 1-0 to France, and it was obvious that the side struggles against teams that defend deep.
I think Didier Deschamps saw that in the matches against Japan and Tunisia. The question is if Roberto Martinez will find a way to change things, as England will most likely let Belgium have more of the ball as well.
In my opinion, the big question is what team Belgium will send on the pitch. Will we see the players that have carried the tournament so far, or will some of the reserves get a chance in a game that’s somewhat meaningless?
I feel that they will have more motivation compared to guys like Hazard and De Bruyne that will feel hurt by the missed opportunity to win the World Cup.
England – A Tough Reality Check
Most people didn’t expect much from this English side, but Gareth Southgate and his boys reached a soccer World Cup semifinal. The last time the country was so deep in the competition was 1990, which is a testimony to this squad.
I think the manager is the one who deserves a lot of credit for that. Still, Southgate, his players, and pretty much every English supporter out there will feel that the team could’ve at least reached the finals.
The start against Croatia was bright, and England was ahead almost immediately.
They could’ve built a larger lead in the first half, but they didn’t find enough composure, and this cost them dearly.
Croatia completely outplayed their opponent in the second half and in extra time and deserved to play for the title. I think the main reason for that is the much better midfield of the Balkan side.
The likes of Modric and Rakitic took control after the break and exposed the main issue with this English team.
It has some world-class attacking players, a solid keeper in Pickford who made an outstanding save in the extra time, and a somewhat decent defense. However, the lack of creativity in the middle simply killed the ambitions of the team.
England failed to create any chances or to control the ball, which gave Croatia a lot of space. One could argue that this was a problem throughout the whole World Cup.
The side scored only three goals from open play and heavily relied on set pieces.
In fact, the only two shots on target in the full 120 minutes of the semifinal both came from dead-ball situations. This is an obvious issue and one England must address going forward.
The media and the supporters have shown mixed feelings towards England at this World Cup. A lot of them think England got lucky to get this far, while others are optimistic about the future and are eager to see the side getting even better.
I would say both are true. This team has a lot of shortcomings, and facing stronger opposition early on would’ve probably exposed them. And yet, there were signs of improvements compared to the past. For a start, England really gave it a go and was relaxed for most of the tournament.
This is why I see them as the favorite in this 3rd-place playoff. For this English side, the match will mean more, and they will be eager to finish the World Cup on a high.
Belgium – England Prediction
I expect a close affair here, as Belgium is slightly better, but England should be more motivated. I expect Southgate to approach this match carefully and let the opponent have more of the ball. This will create space for the fast English forwards.
This is exactly how France outplayed Belgium, and I see no reason for England not to try the same. Still, the team doesn’t have a defense that’s that strong, and I can see both teams scoring in this 3rd playoff.
In fact, I feel it has the potential to be a goal fest, so I will go for 3-2 to England.
Recommended Bets for Belgium vs. England
As I mentioned at the beginning, the motivation is the key here. I think England will want it more, while Belgium will be too disappointed to play at its best. This is why the price of 3.30 for Southgate and his boys seems too good to miss.
If you want to the take the safer route, you could go for England to win in any possible way. The odds of 2.20 are still decent and cover the potential extra time and penalties.
BetVictor Million Pound Bet
Since we need a price of over 17,000 to win the BetVictor Million Pound Bet, it’s time to get crazy.
- England to win 3-2
- Match to be drawn 1-1 in the 1st half
- Match Under 0.5 cards
- Romelu Lukaku to score 1+ goals
- Harry Kane to score 2+ goals
- Belgium Over 6.5 corners
- England Under 5.5 corners
Most of the selections reflect my expectations that Belgium will have more of the ball. As for the cards, the referees are hardly giving any in this World Cup, so I could see a clean game here.
I can’t help it and will share my resentment for this game once more. Who needs that? Two heartbroken teams facing each other instead of flying back home and coping with defeat with their families.
At least most of the time, though, we see goals in the 3rd-place playoffs, and it’s another opportunity to make some cash.
Do you share my opinion about the soccer World Cup playoff, or do you believe there is a point in it? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
The post World Cup 3rd-Place Playoff Preview – Betting Odds and Predictions for Belgium vs. England appeared first on GamblingSites.com.