Belgium vs England Match Analysis and Player Ratings
|Image from the Telegraph|
The third/fourth playoffs proved to be an interesting game as the top two teams from Group H come back together and compete for the bronze medal before the final tomorrow. Belgium came up on top as England was seen off with relative ease as Belgium cruised to a 2-0 win with goals from Meunier and Hazard. England made five changes to the side that lost to Croatia on Thursday with Loftus-Cheek, Delph, Dier, Rose and Jones all coming in with Walker and Henderson injured after the semi-final. Belgium made two changes to their defeat to France with Meunier returning from suspension and Tielemans also starting in midfield.
Courtois, Alderwiereld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Meunier, Witsel, Tielemans, Chadli, De Bruyne, Hazard (c), Lukaku
Pickford, Trippier, Jones, Stones, Maguire, Rose, Dier, Loftus-Cheek, Delph, Sterling, Kane (c)
The game started nervy but as England did in the semi-final, Belgium opened the scoring early as Courtois’ goal kick was nodded into Lukaku’s path by Chadli and played it back to him inside the box to set up Meunier for the first goal after four minutes. Rose tried to cover but England were cut apart in a defensive horror show. England kept pressing for a goal but never looked like scoring for the most part with Kane’s sliced effort being the only chance for the Three Lions in a sterile first half. Alderwiereld could easily have doubled the score with ten minutes of the half to go but his overhead volley just soared over the bar and England avoided another scare.
England had to get back into the game and after the break, Rashford and Lingard came on for Sterling and Rose, of which the former was silent for the first half and the second was overrun by Meunier every time. England looked better and more attack-minded but rarely got a chance with their inexperience showing. Lukaku was subbed off for Dries Mertens after an hour of poor touches and missed chances and Belgium looked a classy outfit on the counter. England had their best chance to level after Rashford played in Dier with twenty minutes to go and the Tottenham defender chipped the ball over Courtois but Alderwiereld cleared the ball agonisingly off the line. After that it was all Belgium with Meunier prevented from doubling his tally with a stunning save from Pickford after some excellent Belgian play. England were then taken out of the game after De Bruyne’s ball bamboozled Jones and Hazard was played in and finished with ease to seal the game. It was a depressing game from an England perspective with their confidence shot and looking shaky at the back and sterile in attack. Belgium were simply outstanding for the whole game and deserved the medals at the end.
BELGIUM PLAYER RATINGS:
Thibaut Courtois (7) – Unchallenged for most the game
Toby Alderwiereld (8) – Goal-line clearance and almost scored from a corner. A truly class defender that will be sought by a lot of clubs.
Vincent Kompany (7.5) – A true anchor and leader of men. Good to see him playing consistently.
Jan Vertonghen (7.5) – Had to go into a left-back position for most the game but played solidly.
Thomas Meunier (8.5) – A sorely missed player in the semi-final and an excellent performance.
Youri Tielemans (7) – Looked sharp and direct in midfield.
Axel Witsel (7) – Solid and strong as a deep midfielder, shame he plays in China.
Nacer Chadli (7.5) – A good cross for the opener but had to be subbed off with an injury and it looked bad, a real pity.
Kevin De Bruyne (9) – Controlled the game from an advanced position and a world-class performance.
Eden Hazard (8.5) – Looked dangerous and tricky to handle as proven by Jones. He may have just hinted he’s moving on and wherever he goes, he’ll be a star.
Romelu Lukaku (6) – Not his day. Some very poor touches and looked upset to be subbed.
Thomas Vermaelen (6.5) – Decent but not special.
Dries Mertens (7.5) – Energetic and classy in the build-up
Moussa Dembelec (7) – Solid and powerful engine in midfield.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS:
Jordan Pickford (8) – Nothing he could have done about the goals but a fantastic save to deny Meunier.
Kieran Trippier (6.5) – Tried but no success from him, was he fit to start? Not so sure.
Phil Jones (5) – Got lost defending the second goal and was average for the rest of the game.
John Stones (7) – Some fantastic blocks to deny Hazard and De Bruyne and played the Southgate way.
Harry Maguire (7) – Decent as well, played out but was stifled by the lack of attacking play in the midfield.
Danny Rose (5) – Defended poorly and rightly substituted.
Eric Dier (7) – Unlucky not to score and decent in midfield.
Fabian Delph (6.5) – Bang average and played better as a left back.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (7.5) – Livelier in the second half and looked dangerous.
Raheem Sterling (5) – Has not looked like scoring really. What is it about England that makes Sterling play so poor?
Harry Kane (4) – Is he injured? Why was he playing so deep given he knows how badly he played against Iceland in a similar mindset. He is still on track for the Golden Boot but does he deserve it for the latter performances? Perhaps not…
Marcus Rashford (6.5) – Lively but no real end product
Jesse Lingard (6.5) – Okay but not impressive.
Dele Alli (n/a)
BELGIUM MAN OF THE MATCH: KEVIN DE BRUYNE
ENGLAND MAN OF THE MATCH: JORDAN PICKFORD