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England and Belgium Meet in Third Place Playoff....Yeah, That's a Thing

Sadly, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is nearing an end. Before we get to watch what should be an all-time classic final between Croatia and France, we must endure the most sadistic game in sport – the third-place playoff. It doesn’t even have an attractive name, but luckily it does have some attractive betting lines and trends. England and Belgium meet for the second time in the tournament this year and like the first meeting, this will have little to no meaning. There is however a Golden Boot on the line and the two front-runners feature in this contenst which could provide some redemption in the form of goals.

Bovada currently has Belgium as the favorite in moneyline markets at +120 with England coming back at +220 and the draw at +265. In totals markets, OVER 3 is priced at EVEN and the UNDER at -120.

Bet on the 2018 World Cup here

  • A combined 28 players from both teams are teammates at club level.
  • The team with less rest is 5-1 in the last six third-place playoff games when the semis are on different days.
  • There have been OVER 3 goals in six of the last 10 third-place playoff games


The Premier League is well represented in this clash. The entire English squad is comprised of Prem players and the Belgians feature 11. Twenty-eight combined play for last season’s top 5 clubs Tottenham (eight), Manchester City (six), Chelsea (five), Manchester United (five) and Liverpool (three).

Of course there will be competitive familiarity but many of these guys sporting opposite kits on Saturday will be wearing the same strips come August. This could play like a North American All-Star game where goals and flair will be on full display.

These games have produced a number of cards traditionally, but few have seen this level of club commonality. I’m not expecting a chippy affair here as a result as there’s too much riding on the next season of domestic football for a guy like Jan Vertonghen to take a run at Harry Kane or John Stones to be muscling Raheem Sterling around.

UNDER 3.5 bookings at +115 looks to be a pretty good play to consider.


Discounting the 1994 World Cup in USA when the semifinals were on the same day, the team coming off less rest in the third-place game has a record of 5-1. This dates back to Italia 1990 when Italy beat England 2-1 to finish third on home soil.

England is coming off a two hour marathon with Croatia and saw its share of tired legs make an exit in the extra periods. Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young and Jordan Henderson all put in hefty shifts and were taken off in extras due to a host of reasons.

That opens the door for some rotation in the English side, and there’s 20 or more players looking ahead to getting spots in the Euro 2020 selection. Barring any catastrophe, Southgate should have a few more years at the helm for England and he’ll want to see something from those hopefuls who haven’t seen the pitch much in Russia.

The Belgians have seen an extra day of rest and an extra day to heal the wounds from a crushing crescendo to an otherwise tidy tournament. I assume there will be some rotation, and even if not, the core of veteran superstars will undoubtedly have their minds on domestic play.

Player for player, Belgium has the better squad and if this does play like an exhibition they could produce a ton of goals, but I feel like England’s effort level will exceed that of Belgium’s vastly so their +220 moneyline might be worth a sprinkle.


Since 1978 every third-place playoff game at the World Cup has seen at least three goals and six of those 10 have gone over that total with an average of 4.1 goals per game.

In a game with this much star power and what I think will be a fairly loose contest, EVEN money on the OVER looks very attractive.

The Golden Boot race isn’t quite sewn up and I think both of these sides will look to feed their leading snipers as often as possible. Harry Kane leads Romelu Lukaku by two goals as it stands and that’s no small hill to climb. Plus, I think Harry’s defensive core will look to protect his prize as the Tottenham man is known to be an admired character in the locker room.

Kane anytime is at EVEN money and Lukaku is paying +125, both viable options.