England vs Belgium Match Analysis and Player Ratings
|Image from the Telegraph|
From an England perspective, it was a disappointing game to watch as Adnan Januzaj’s stunning effort beat Jordan Pickford to take Belgium to the top of Group G and to a Round of Sixteen match against Japan. England must face Colombia after their narrow win against Senegal took them to the top of Group H. England and Belgium both rang the changes with the Three Lions making eight changes and Belgium making nine, the squads lined up:
Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Jones, Stones, Cahill, Rose, Dier (c), Delph, Loftus-Cheek, Rashford, Vardy
Courtois (c), Dendoncker, Vermaelen, Boyata, T. Hazard, Fellaini, Dembele, Tielemans, Chadli, Januzaj, Batshuayi
England started positively and pressured the Belgian side well and got a cheap chance as Thorgan Hazard, who was playing as a wing-back at times, gave Vardy the ball easily down the right channel and crossed into Rashford but Courtois blocked the ball with his foot and Belgium got away with it. Belgium woke up and started to play around England and got the first shot on target with Youri Tielemans swerving a shot that Pickford dealt with well. England almost conceded again but would have been an awful way to do so as Batshuayi’s effort squirmed under Pickford and Cahill cleared the ball just. Alexander-Arnold had been excellent so far and created a lot of chances with his impressive crossing abilities but both Cahill from a corner and Vardy from live play headed wide and good chances were missed. Belgium dominated the possession but barely made a true attack but roughly half an hour in, and another goal-line clearance had to be made by Alexander-Arnold from Fellaini’s shot and England once again escaped punishment for sloppy defending. Alexander-Arnold kept creating chances and almost scored himself after his cross sent Courtois back-pedalling frantically but the cross-shot just went over the bar, he then almost teed up Loftus-Cheek from a freekick but the Chelsea man headed wide and spurned another chance with three minutes to go as the ball dropped to him outside the box and in acres of space, but he took a poor touch and the chance disappeared. The half seemed very calm and quite like a friendly but as it stood, England would top the group due to their better disciplinary record by three yellow cards.
|Should Kane, Lingard or Henderson come on at any point?
(Image from the Telegraph)
At the start of the second half, England swapped John Stones for Harry Maguire with the Man City defender strapping an ice pack to his calf. Hopefully, he should be fit for the Round of Sixteen tie and it is just a precautionary substitution. Early on, Rashford had a chance to score but his side-footed effort curled just wide of the mark. Not long after, the Three Lions were behind from a fantastic effort by Manchester United reject Adnan Januzaj, who beat Pickford with the classy strike which was his first international goal on his ninth appearance. For about fifteen minutes, the game reverted back to its friendly-like atmosphere and frustrated England fans were expecting changes of the Harry Kane or Jesse Lingard nature and even more so when Rashford spurned a one-on-one with Courtois as his placed effort was high enough for Courtois to prevent with a strong hand to the ball. The last twenty-five minutes reminded me of the second half against Iceland when England tried to attack but achieved nothing special and was highlighted even more with the substitution of our best player in Alexander-Arnold for Danny Welbeck, urgh. Belgium could have sealed the game at the death as the substitute, Mertens hit a hard effort that Pickford comfortably saved but was lucky that Fellaini got very little contact or it could have been a second. The game ended as such and to be honest, it wasn’t the best watch but now England must face Colombia in the Round of Sixteen. If they beat the South American side, then it will be either Sweden or Switzerland in the next round while Belgium, if they beat Japan, will face either Brazil or Mexico in the Quarter Finals.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS:
Jordan Pickford (7) – Made some good saves but was uneasy at times. He needs to be more confident or he could make a vital error. Nothing he could have done about the goal.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) – The best English player on the pitch and looked very dangerous. Won’t start over Trippier but what an experience for the youngster.
Phil Jones (6) – Uneasy at times but for the most part was very solid. Walker will surely come in for him but he did not do badly today.
John Stones (7) – A good half of football, if he is injured then it could be worrying but if it is just precautionary, then he is a guaranteed starter against Colombia.
Gary Cahill (6.5) – Got caught out at times but made a crucial clearance in the first half.
Danny Rose (5) – Average in attack and caught out for the goal. Still showing signs of rustiness but might improve for the next match.
Eric Dier (5) – Not his best performance and certainly second best to Henderson, who has been outstanding. Might not be in the next starting XI.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (4.5) – Dallied on the ball at times and had a couple of chances to shoot but didn’t take them, perhaps some inexperience being shown but he needs to pick himself up and should start against Colombia.
Fabian Delph (5) – Was not his day. He had moments of good quality but in all reality did not have a good game. A decent substitute if the midfield needs help against Colombia.
Marcus Rashford (5) – Energetic but missed crucial chances, maybe being an impact player is for the best I guess.
Jamie Vardy (6) – Tried to act like Kane and bring other players into the game whilst also making his normal runs behind the defence. Decent but with no final product.
Harry Maguire (6) – Decent but nothing special.
Danny Welbeck (3) – Shouldn’t be at the World Cup, should have been on the pitch, missed the one chance he had. [Sigh]
BELGIUM PLAYER RATINGS:
|Image from the Telegraph|
Thibaut Courtois (7.5) – Made some good saves and collected the ball confidently.
Leander Dendoncker (6.5) – Decent at the back, dealt with England well.
Dedryck Boyata (7) – Also good at the back.
Thomas Vermaelen (6.5) – Got beaten up a bit but was solid at the back as well. A decent performance despite a lack of first-team football for so long.
Thorgan Hazard (7) – Got caught out as a wing-back at times but decent in attack. Is a good young talent and would be nice to see him play with Hazard.
Moussa Dembele (7.5) – Strong and powerful in midfield. Battered Loftus-Cheek and Delph all game.
Marouane Fellaini (7) – A target man at times and created a lot of chances because of it. A good super sub if Belgium needs him and can win games with his tall frame and power.
Youri Tielemans (7.5) – Another good young talent and played very well, creating some decent chances.
Nacer Chadli (6) – Barely saw him the whole game…not really sure why he is in the squad over Jordan Lukaku.
Adnan Januzaj (8) – A stunning goal and looked lively in attack. Is this the game that revitalises the youngster, he is only 23 and has a whole career ahead of him.
Michy Batshuayi (6+2) – The plus two is a bonus for producing one of the funniest moments of the World Cup so far, for when Januzaj scored, he kicked the ball in delight onto the post and it rebounded straight into his face. A comical mistake from a funny guy. Other than that had a few decent chances and took on Cahill and Rose at one point and had the beating of both.
Vincent Kompany (6) – Relatively unchallenged and was solid for the time he was on.
Dries Mertens (6) – Decent shot when he came on but had very little time to make an impact.
ENGLAND MAN OF THE MATCH: TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD
BELGIUM MAN OF THE MATCH: ADNAN JANUZAJ