Fight for Bronze

Fight for Bronze

Belgium and England have already met during the World Cup in a match both teams seemed reluctant to win and on Saturday they will face each other again in a game they both seem reluctant to play

St Petersburg: Belgium and England have already met dur-ing the World Cup in a match both teams seemed reluctant to win and on Saturday they will face each other again in a game they both seem reluctant to play.

The two sides must pick themselves up and dust them-selves down after suffering the crushing disappointment of semi-final defeats to play for the modest prize of third place in a fixture often criticised as point-less.

“It's not a game any team wants to play,” said England manager Gareth Southgate after his team lost 2-1 to Croatia after extra time in Wednesday's sec-ond semi-final.

“Of course, we want to win, we'll be ready to go again be-cause the team take great pride in their performances. It's a bit too early after that defeat to think about it.”

His Belgian counterpart Roberto Martinez was similarly unenthused about the game af-ter his side were beaten 1-0 by France on Tuesday.

“Its a difficult emotion to manage. You’re disappointed because you lose the semi-final, and its very difficult to see the opportunity of playing another
game as a positive,” he said. Even so, he said he would try to lift his team.

We need to regroup and re-cover and see the opportunity. To try to finish third in the World Cup doesnt happen of-ten. The only time it happened in Belgian football was in 1986, when we finished fourth.”

The two teams previously met in their final group stage game when both had already guaranteed a place in the last 16 — with the twist that the side who finished second would land in the easier side of the draw.

Martinez switched nine play-ers and Southgate brought in eight, a decision he described as a no brainer in the circum-stances.

Belgium won 1-0 and were rewarded with games against Japan,Brazil and France while England played colombia, sweden and croatia but the end result for both sideswas the same - semifinal elimination.

“Sometimes I think you have to look at the bigger picture and make decisions that might be criticised,” said Southgate at the time.

The third-place match was dropped from the European championship by UEFA follow-ing the 1980 tournament but has remained part of the World Cup calendar despite com- plaints.

FIFA did not immedi-respond to a request for but the.Both teams are in their sec-ond third-place match, Belgium having lost to France in 1986 and England to Italy four years later.

It tends to be a high-scor-ing fixture with each of the last four winners scoring three goals—Turkey in 2002, Germany in 2006 and 2010 and Netherlands in 2014.

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