By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 28th June 2018
Thursday 28th June
Kick-off: 7:00pm BST
Stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
Live on ITV1
In the most eagerly awaited encounter of Group G, England vs Belgium is likely to provide an indication of how good the Three Lions really are ahead of the knockout stages.
England vs Belgium odds
The odds indicate that Belgium are 13/8 favourites to beat England in Kaliningrad, with it 19/10 that the Three Lions finish Group G with nine points. The draw is priced up as a 2/1 shot.
England vs Belgium team news
Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out of the fixture after sustai
ning an ankle injury against Tunisia. He will be fit for the next round however.
Eric Dier meanwhile is set start after failing to make an appearance in the first two games. Raheem Sterling will be rested according to the Daily Mail.
Roberto Martinez claimed changing every outfield player for this fixture could be an option, saying: “Nobody has got a place guaranteed in this team at the moment. That’s the way we are looking at it.”
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could be set for his first appearance at this tournament after completing training on Monday.
Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, centre-back Jan Vertonghen and right-back Thomas Meunier are all one yellow card away from missing Belgium’s last-16 match so could be rested.
“It would be very risky and a real gamble to play any of the players who are on a yellow card against England, because you don’t want to have any player missing for the knockout stage,” Martinez added.
Gareth Southgate is weary himself of exerting his best players and warned Harry Kane that he will make decisions that are “right for the squad”, possibly suggesting he could rest him against Belgium.
With two goals in his last 40 England appearances and none since October 2015, Raheem Sterling is likely to be rested to see if Marcus Rashford offers a greater scoring threat alongside Harry Kane.
Rashford’s England record has been superior in recent times, although all of his three goals since his 2016 debut have come on home soil.
Those expecting a Rashford goal can back the Man Utd man at odds of 21/10 to net in the 90 minutes or 7/1 to bag the opener, as two of his three England goals have been.
Alternatively, it’s 10/1 among the match specials that the 20-year-old replicates what he did in the recent friendly with Costa Rica by scoring from outside of the box.
England vs Belgium predicted line-ups
England 3-1-4-2: GK Jordan Pickford; CB Phil Jones, CB John Stones, CB Gary Cahill; RWB Trent Alexander-Arnold, CM Ruben Loftus-Cheek, DM Eric Dier, CM Jesse Lingard, LWB Danny Rose; ST Marcus Rashford, ST Harry Kane
Belgium 3-4-2-1: GK Thibaut Courtois; CB Thomas Vermaelen, CB Dedryck Boyata, CB Toby Alderweireld; CM Mousa Dembele, CM Marouane Fellaini, AMC Nacer Chadli, LWB Thorgan Hazard, RWB Youri Tielemans, AMC Eden Hazard, ST Michy Batshuayi
Sam Allardyce’s combined England and Belgium XI
Former England manager Allardyce outlined his combined England and Belgium team to William Hill earlier this week.
Six Three Lions players make up the side with Jordan Pickford picked ahead of Thibaut Courtois and Harry Kane instead of Romelu Lukaku.
Whilst all the players ply their trade in the Premier League, Tottenham are represented the most with five players from their club in Allardyce’s side.
England vs Belgium permutations
Both England and Belgium have qualified with identical records going into this final group clash.
If the game is a tie then the top two positions will be decided by the number of cards each side has – England have two yellows and Belgium have three.
If still the teams have identical records then lots will be drawn to decide the final positions.
England vs Belgium odds – will it be high-scoring?
The fact that England and Belgium both scored eight goals across their meetings with Panama and Tunisia isn’t surprising, but both conceding two was unexpected given their superiority.
The odds are that neither side are quite where they need to be defensively. With both managers hinting at squad rotation in this encounter, there could be even more gaps to exploit at the back.
Six of Belgium’s last 10 matches delivered over 3.5 goals and this game is 11/4 odds to follow suit.
Another factor sure to affect the scoreline is whether Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku can convince their coaches not to rest them. Both are challenging to be tournament top goalscorer after five and four goals in their opening two outings respectively.
England vs Belgium match stats
Gareth Southgate’s men extended their unbeaten run to a confidence-inspiring 12 games against Panama last time out, all bar three of which were wins.
Danny Welbeck notched the winner in a 1-0 Wembley success in the sides’ sole post-millennium meeting back in June 2012. Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard all started on both that occasion and in Belgium’s first two Group G fixtures.
The Red Devils are even longer unbeaten than England, with 21 matches having gone by since they were bested by Spain in a September 2016 friendly and they’ve been prolific in front of goal of late.
Roberto Martinez’s side have struck at least three times in eight of their last 10 internationals, impressively putting three past a usually-defensively-stringent Mexico last November.
England vs Belgium key players to watch
The odds are that you already know Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are among the Premier League’s leading creatives.
Belgium’s real key player could end up being Dedryck Boyata. The Celtic centre-half was seldom an assured presence during spells at Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers and could be the weak link in the defence if continuing to deputise for the injured Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen.
As with Lukaku, Kane’s importance to the England cause is indisputable, as his two strikes against Tunisia and hat-trick against Panama illustrated.
However, against the Rode Duivels, the performances of Southgate’s fullbacks could prove decisive.
Not only will they play a part in helping the back three deal with Belgium’s brilliant attackers, but their own offensive exploits will be just as important in pinning back their opponents’ wide men Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Thomas Meunier.