World Cup 2018: Belgium vs England - preview, team news, predicted XI, prediction, head to head, & interesting stats
The penultimate match of the group stages will see England take on Belgium with bizarre coincidences as both teams having the exact same number of points, the exact same number of goal difference, the exact same number of goals scored, but England leads the group by fair play after receiving only 2 yellow cards compared to the 3 Belgium have.
A win for any of the sides will see one of them topping the group while a draw would result in England topping the group on fair play, unless England gets more yellow cards than Belgium in this match.
The Three Lions started off their World Cup campaign in quite a nervy fashion as captain Harry Kane scored twice in the 11th minute and 1st minute of injury time to help defeat Tunisia 2-1.
The second match in their campaign saw the former champions in ruthless form as they thrashed a hapless Panama side 6-1 with 5 of those goals coming in the first half of the match.
With their all-time rivals Germany already crashed out of the World Cup, a victory will ensure that England tops their group for the first time since 2006.
Belgium started off their World Cup campaign in an impressive fashion as they defeated Panama 3-0. The second match saw the Red Devils thrashing Tunisia 5-2 courtesy of a Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard brace.
The pre-tournament favourites will be looking to secure victory over England as they look to finish top of their group for the second time in a row.
With the added advantage of knowing who they will face in the Round of 16, both managers are poised to make quite a few changes to their playing XI.
England manager Gareth Southgate is poised to give Eric Dier his first start in this World Cup, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is a booking away from suspension and Dele Alli who suffered a muscle problem against Tunisia are unlikely to feature against Belgium. Gary Cahill and Marcus Rashford may get their first start of this World Cup.
Belgium's Manager Roberto Martinez is expected to make at least 6 changes to his lineup with Romelu Lukaku (ruled out with an injury), Dries Mertens (ankle problem), Eden Hazard (nursing a calf problem) along with Thomas Meunier, Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen all of whom are a booking away from suspension.
Possible line ups for the teams
England predicted XI: Jordan Pickford, Phil Jones, John Stones, Gary Cahill, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane
Belgium predicted XI: Thibaut Courtois, Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Nacer Chadli, Youri Tielemans, Yannick Carrasco, Michy Batshuayi
Head to Head stats
England is unbeaten in the previous 11 meetings with Belgium, and is unbeaten in the 2 matches both teams have played in the World Cup.
Belgium has just one victory in their previous 21 meetings with England, with their only victory coming in 1936.
England has scored 8 goals at this World Cup, as many as in 1954 and 1990, with 1966 being the only World Cup where they have scored more goals - it ended with England being crowned the champions.
Harry Kane can become the first player since Oleg Salenko in 1994 to score more than 5 goals in the opening round of a World Cup. With 5 goals Kane is just 1 goal behind Gary Linekar - to equal the record of most goals scored by an English player in a World Cup.
Belgium can become the first team in World Cup history to win 3 consecutive matches by a margin of 3 goals if they win against England by a margin of 3 or greater. The Red Devils are unbeaten in their previous 11 World Cup Group matches.
England vs Belgium Group G:
Match Date: 28 June 2018, Thursday
Match Timing: 23:30 IST
Match Venue: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia
With a number of changes certainly to be made on both teams, it will be more likely a dull affair than the exciting one widely anticipated.
England 1-1 Belgium