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European teams have claimed third place at the past nine World Cups. "We have two days to prepare".

MF Thomas Meunier, 7 - Scored his first goal of the World Cup after only four minutes.

Memorably unmemorable is perhaps the only way to describe the third-place play-off, one that shouldn't even exist and hopefully won't when the tournament expands to 48 teams in 2026.

Hazard's World Cup display has intensified transfer speculation about his future and it remains to be seen if Chelsea can convince their talisman to sign a new long-term deal. In the 70th minute, Eric Dier's chip over Thibaut Courtois was swept away at the goal line by Toby Alderweireld. A third place finish is not what they came for, but will be what they're leaving with.

"We want to finish on a high and these players deserve to finish on a high", said the Spaniard.

It may not be how either team had envisioned it, but Belgium and England are playing in the final weekend of the World Cup.

Belgium players salute the fans after defeating Englandin the third place playoff to achieve their highest World Cup placing.

As it turns out, Southgate has gone for a combination of both as he's given regular first-team players such as Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane places in his starting XI.

But that's what England and Belgium must do this afternoon - though the game could yet turn into a Golden Boot shoot-out.

Meunier returned from suspension and Youri Tielemans got a start ahead of Marouane Fellaini in midfield with the Belgians fielding their strong front three of Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Never before has Belgium had such a talented group of players like this one, many of them of world-class calibre, and the overwhelming majority of them are still in the prime of their respective careers. "We don't want to wait another 20-odd years to get into another major semifinal". At the other end his set-piece deliveries were consistently risky, enabling England to apply sustained pressure in the second half.

Scott Brant: Belgium 2 - 1 England. He has attempted seven shots in the knockout rounds and only his penalty kick goal against Colombia hit the target.

But Belgium still posed a danger and another scintillating counterattack, arguably its best of the tournament so far, ended with Jordan Pickford producing a stunning save to deny Meunier his second. Belgium are obviously a good team.

As England looks ahead to Euro 2020, Gareth Southgate will have to try to find ways to score in the run of play more than England did during this tournament while still keeping the set-piece threat that was so present here in Russian Federation. On Saturday, he slipped as he shot wide in the first half, then failed to make contact with Jesse Lingard's cross early in the second. Romelu Lukaku had a great opportunity at goal in the box, but a heavy touch moved the ball right to the feet of Pickford.


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