talkSPORT looks ahead to the third-place play-off on Saturday
It’s the penultimate game – but it could still be a cracker.
England and Belgium must pick themselves up from semi-final elimination and battle it out for third place on Saturday.
Neither side will have recovered from the heartbreak of missing out on a World Cup final just a matter of days ago, nor will they care whether they come third or fourth.
But there are a few individual scores to be settled at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Romelu Lukaku is Harry Kane’s closest rival for the Golden Boot. The Belgian has four goals to Kane’s six.
A tie would be settled by assists and then minutes per goal, both of which Lukaku is ahead in. So he will be in no need of extra motivation.
Jordan Pickford and Thibaut Courtois are both outside bets for the Golden Glove, but it remains to be seen whether others will be given a chance for the final game.
You’ll remember both managers made wholesale changes when they met in the last game of the group stage, with the Red Devils edging it 1-0.
Despite the crushing disappointment of Wednesday’s defeat to Croatia, the Three Lions have captured the hearts of the nation, and Saturday at least gives Gareth Southgate’s men the chance to end of a deserved high.
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What the managers are saying
Roberto Martinez (Belgium): “I am not going to make changes now to give certain players opportunities because they have already received them against England.
“Any change will be to make the team stronger.
“Even the most important players that have completed a lot of minutes, I’ve seen them fresh and looking forward to the game.”
Gareth Southgate (England): “We want to finish well. I think we go home with pride but there is personal pride as well as the nation’s pride to this.
“They deserve a medal but they need to go and earn it and we want to keep maintaining the standards.
“We have the chance to be the second-most successful team in English football history.”
What the players are saying
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium): “Raheem [Sterling] has done really well in the games I saw.
“He hasn’t scored goals, but not everything in football is about goals.
“Raheem is a wonderful player. He’s an easy-going guy who gives everything for everyone, even with the criticism. Personally, I don’t understand why you would criticise people from your own country when all they are trying to do is win it.”
Jordan Pickford (England): “Hopefully I will get the nod against Belgium. I’d love to get the goalkeeper of the tournament. But we came to win this tournament. We can’t do that now but we want to finish third. It will be a tough test against Belgium again.
“Of course it will be hard to get ourselves up for it. That’s where character comes in. It’s another chance to show our togetherness. We want to finish a great tournament on a high.”
What is the team news?
Belgium right-back Thomas Meunier will return after missing the semi-final defeat to France through suspension.
Martinez has no fresh injury concerns and has promised to pick his strongest team.
England’s gruelling extra-time loss to Croatia saw Kieran Trippier, Jordan Henderson and Ashley Young come off with niggles.
Southgate said he would be ‘very suprised’ if Trippier recovers, but all 23 players trained on Friday and he also wants to pick a strong side.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Meunier, Witsel, Fellaini, Chadli; De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku
England: Pickford; Cahill, Stones, Maguire; Walker, Dele, Henderson, Lingard, Rose; Sterling, Kane
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