Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Deflated England, Belgium get ready for third place clash

Deflated England, Belgium get ready for third place clash

Before we get to Sunday's World Cup final in Moscow between Croatia and France, we have the third-place match between the semifinal losers England and Belgium in Saint Petersburg.

The Three Lions were aiming to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 but suffered a 2-1 loss to Croatia, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the victor in extra-time.

Southgate has one last assignment before signing off in Russian Federation, negotiating Saturday's third-place play-off against a Belgium side who were 1-0 winners when the sides met in Kaliningrad during the group phase.

"We'll finish as one of the top four teams in the world but we're not ranked there".

"Everybody says the same you know we are proud of them", said an England fan.

"He was was totally on board with us not playing him in the first game against Belgium".

The England manager admits it is not a game that any team wants to play in, but changes will be as much down to the short turnaround and tournament exertions than anything else. This past month, I've seen videos going around, photos been sent to me.

"Now we've cemented that and can look more at other things. They did an very bad lot better than I ever done, or we ever done". "And Belgium have beaten us once already so we'd like to address that".

England now holds the under-17 and under-20 World Cup crowns. For all of the players and all of the staff, we got back to St Petersburg at 6.30am after the game, so emotionally it has been a very hard few days.

"It would be nice to see it now", one England fan said.

Pre-tournament preparation was spot on: "We chose to play friendlies against teams who would be at the World Cup and that was a great lesson for us".

Captain Harry Kane will be among the more interesting selection decisions, given the sharpshooter is gunning for the Golden Boot. "We've improved on that and the players are up for improving more".

"We don't want to take anything but a positive feeling out of the World Cup", Martinez said.

He used the example of the feel-good aspect of Germany's performance at the 2006 finals, where the hosts - with a young team like the current England crop - won over a nation despite losing to Italy in the semi-finals. He never represented his country at global level during a modest career as a defensive midfielder.

"I think he has been the player of the tournament regardless of the result on Sunday".

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