2018 WORLD CUP 3RD PLACE GAME WITH INCREASED PRICE.
When ENGLAND and BELGIUM first met in this tournament, it was arguably a mere formality game to many, though the pride of who finishes top of the group was still at stake. Both teams, made significant changes to their team for that game, ENGLAND played with almost a completely different starting 11. This time around in the 3rd place game, they have all to play for.
Unlike before, this year we have a 3rd place game that will attract much more interest, require more commitment and ultimately reward the winner with a prize to show for the HYPE of their squad and much talked about step up in progress made as a team in this tournament, compared to previous performances.
Roberto Martinez: Throughout the tournament showed he was in complete control and in harmony with this group of players and has earned their respect and commitment by an obvious tactical and technical work done. He took over the team dubbed underachievers/golden generation just under 2years ago, and has transformed them to winners. Though made up of abundant talent and game changers, the team still needed a lot to be done. And in this tournament, he masterfully showed his tactical astuteness climaxed in the game he won against BRASIL, though he gave all the credit to the players. So I expect him to show up with a winning tactics for the day.
On the other hand deserves some accolades, for bravely going for a largely young squad. Obviously, he worked with many of them in the junior teams. He found a way to play and win games from where his team’s strength is, without going for the spectacle. And has achieved beyond what many expected. He obviously needs this game to seal it. I also expect that he will make some changes in the starting 11 this time.
Read also; England V Croatia analysis.
This is a team not lacking in talent by any standards:-solid defensively, rich in midfield, and potent in attack. The have also approached their games with required commitment and sense of urgency. I don’t expect any less this time. They have ability to create chances in EDEN HAZARD and KEVIN DE BRUYNE. What they must do in this game, unlike in the game against FRANCE is to finish those opportunities. Just like CROATIA, BELGIUM must force/control the game to be played where ENGLAND don’t want it. Their key players as aforementioned thrive in spaces between the midfielders and the defenders, which is their opponent’s weak area, this time around. I expect them to control and mage the game in this area, obviously need to make better decisions in the final third to finish up chances. And feed LUKAKU in the way he likes to be fed.
Amidst all odds, this team has proved many wrong. I do not expect any departure from how they have approached this tournament. Though I expect changes to the starting 11. Against CROATIA they showed panic when pressed at the back. This time, I expect SOUTHGATE to go with two defensive midfielders, by adding DIER to the equation and maybe drop one of LINGAURD or ALLI. This will curtail the impact of HAZARD and KEVIN. In this tournament STERLING, has been a torn in the flesh for defenders but as always failed to score goals. I expect he will be replaced with either RASHFORD or WELBECK, which will still offer the team pace upfront. WELBECK, strangely has the best scoring ratio than any other player in the team coming into this tournament. Will SOUTHGATE continue his bravery? We shall find out in the next 24hours.
The price for this year’s 3rd place winner is more than the trophy. This is an EPL clash. More than 80% of the starting 22, play in the EPL. This will add extra motivation to the players. I can imagine the banter going on behind the scenes among the players. So a lot is a stake. Going by reputation, BELGIUM has an edge, parading most of the EPL top performers. But we have seen in this year’s tournament, that talent and ability is no longer enough, rather design, commitment and application on the day have become even more important. The team that can draw extra motivation from loss of their last game will win this one.
ENGLAND desperately needs something to build upon and show for progress made, while BELGIUM require this game, to sustain progress and prove to be truly the golden generation. Obviously, we are in for an expected keenly contested 3rd place game this time.
Analysis and article by Reginald Uche.