St Petersburg: England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted the World Cup third-fourth place play-off Saturday is a game that no team want to play, but match against Belgium offers the chance to finish the tournament on a winning note and also exact revenge. In the group stage England had lost 0-1 to Belgium.
“The honest thing is, it’s not a game any team want to play in,” said Southgate. However, he insisted that will not alter England’s approach as they look to achieve their best finish since they won the competition in 1966.
For Belgium and their ‘Golden Generation’, many of the key players should return for the 2022 World Cup, even if Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen will probably be gone by then. “We want to finish on a high and these players deserve to finish on a high. But it’s very difficult to prepare for the next game,” said Roberto Martinez, their coach.
Martinez, who signed an extension until after Euro 2020 in May, can guide Belgium to the nation’s best result at the World Cup. They finished fourth in 1986. “You need to try to see the opportunity of finishing third at the World Cup. That doesn’t happen too often, so we need to understand that this is an important game,” asserted the Spaniard.
Journey so far at the WC
- Second time the teams will face-off at this World Cup after the first match – final Group G game – won by Belgium
- Belgium and England are the first teams to face each other twice at a World Cup since Turkey played Brazil twice at the 2002 edition
- England’s Harry Kane leads the race for ‘Golden Boot’ with six goals, and if he remains atop he would be just the second England player to scoop the award, after Gary Lineker in 1986