England, Belgium battle for Group G ascendancy


England and Belgium will battle for top spot in Group G of the 2018 World Cup when they meet at Kaliningrad Stadium on Thursday, June 28, kick-off at 20h00 CAT.

Both sides are already safely through to the last 16 of the tournament, having claimed wins over Tunisia and Panama in their first two games.

Belgium celebrate after beating Panama
Belgium celebrate after beating Panama

England enjoyed a 6-1 thrashing of Panama on Sunday, with a hat-trick from Harry Kane powering them to their biggest World Cup win, while Belgium were on fire on Saturday when they racked up a 5-2 triumph over Tunisia thanks to braces from Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

England thrashed Panama
England thrashed Panama

Both the ‘Three Lions’ the ‘Red Devils’ have exactly the same record after two games: six points, eight goals scored, two conceded. The English currently occupy top spot on the pool on fair play points (-2 compared to Belgium’s -3).

The chance to top the group and avoid the winners of Group H in the next round – set to be one of Senegal, Japan or Colombia – will be the motivating factor in this clash, though don’t be surprised if both managers, Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez, opt to rest their key men for the knockout phase.

This could see the likes of Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck given the chance to shine in attack for England, while Michy Batshuayi and Thorgan Hazard are likely to have the same opportunity for the Belgians.

England VS Belgium

In head-to-head terms, England and Belgium have met in 21 matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The ‘Three Lions’ have claimed 15 wins compared to just one for the ‘Red Devils’, while five games have been drawn.

The teams have met in two World Cup matches: a 4-4 draw in the group stage of the 1954 tournament in Switzerland, and a round of 16 clash in Italy 1990 which was won 1-0 by England. Their last meeting was a friendly in June 2012 at Wembley which also ended in a 1-0 victory for the ‘Three Lions’.

England VS Belgium June 2012
England VS Belgium June 2012

If both teams do opt to rest several front-line players, that probably plays more into the hands of Belgium, who arguably have the greater strength in depth and are likely to claim a narrow victory as a result.

England v Belgium – head-to-head

Matches played 21
England wins 15
Belgium wins 1
Draws 5
England goals 70
Belgium goals 25