De Futebol Belgium Shutouts England 2-0 to Win Third Place at 2018 World Cup!

Belgium was too strong for England. Belgium started out quick with a masterful goal by Thomas Meunier in the 4th minute to take the one nil lead.

This sent the English side on their heels.

Three Lions attacked in the second half. Belgium swatted away attack after attack until the match was salted away on a brilliant counter attack goal from Eden Hazard in the 82nd minute winning in a cake walk 2-0.

England put up a fight however Belgium was a superior side.

It was a good tournament for Three Lions. However, England needs to shore up the midfield and work on putting the rock into the back of the net.

England had several great chances to even this puppy up however the guys missed by that much. This is what separates winning and losing.

In the end, Belgium was just too good.

The Guardians Dominic Fifield:” There was a collective puffing of cheeks offered up by England’s players at the final whistle, victims of Belgium’s best World Cup showing, but that sense of disappointment will pass quickly enough. Gareth Southgate’s young and talented squad did themselves proud over this tournament. No other English team has ever bettered the fourth place they have claimed, unexpectedly and joyously, on foreign soil and their achievements are to be celebrated.

The real frustration had been endured in the Luzhniki Stadium in midweek. This afterthought in St Petersburg, a game played amid Mexican waves and those familiar chants of “Rossiya”, should not tint anything that came before. Southgate will actually have been encouraged by the upbeat tempo his side whipped up after the interval, when weary legs and tired minds might have reduced the whole contest to a plod, and threatened for a while to force parity. Chances were created, opportunities were missed. Then Eden Hazard, stirred into action and fed by the irrepressible Kevin De Bruyne, danced down-field and settled the occasion.

Some will no doubt argue that England have still to prosper against top quality opposition in competitive action, if, indeed, that is what this was. Belgium have beaten them twice in this tournament and will be received by the crowds in Brussels on Sunday rejoicing in their best ever performance at the World Cup. Their celebrations at the end, from bench to pitch, reflected a sense of achievement. But, as Southgate had pointed out in the build-up, England never expected to be here. “I’m not sure anyone in our country thought we’d be playing seven matches,” he had offered.

They ended up competing well here, despite a slack opening which left them chasing the game almost from the outset. England’s second half showing demonstrated all the pride and commitment for which Southgate had called. They were the dominant team after the interval, even if Belgium retained a considerable threat on the break, as demonstrated eight minutes from time by Hazard’s smart finish inside Jordan Pickford’s post. Yet headers at set-plays would drift wide, and Toby Alderweireld would hook Eric Dier’s clipped finish from the line. The stubborn refusal to wilt, despite having shipping a goal with the game in its infancy, was still admirable and said so much about the spirit of this collective.

The introduction of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford at half-time had clearly made an impact, but to see the group straining to respond despite weary legs and tired minds was still impressive. There was actually plenty to admire: from Fabian Delph’s versatility and fine challenge to thwart Thomas Meunier; to Kieran Trippier’s delivery which so stretched even this experienced opposing back-line at times; the substitutes’ zest and a far more impressive showing from Ruben Loftus-Cheek; and Eric Dier’s increased influence in midfield. It had been the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, one of five changes from the semi-final, who exchanged passes with Rashford midway through the second half to advance on Thibaut Courtois at an angle. His shot was clipped smartly over the goalkeeper, only for Alderweireld to slide in and scramble the effort from under the crossbar.

England’s players massed in front of their supporters after the final whistle, serenaded to the heavens for their efforts, while Belgium prepared to mount the stage to claim their bronze medals. Theirs had been the bite, their ambitions made clear by the reality the wing-backs had combined to force them ahead while the game was still settling into its rhythm. That reward had stemmed from a Courtois clearance, nodded down by Nacer Chadli for Romelu Lukaku to accept and exploit the gaps in a rejigged England midfield. His pass inside Trippier for the galloping Chadli to collect was still superbly weighted, with the West Bromwich Albion player – who would depart before the break with hamstring trouble – squaring across the six-yard box. There appeared Meunier, sprinting in ahead of a startled Danny Rose, to convert beyond Pickford.

The Everton goalkeeper would do well to paw away De Bruyne’s deflected effort, and thrillingly from Meunier’s late volley after a counter-attack crammed with back-heels and precise passing which left England gasping in the vapour trail. Twice the Manchester City playmaker split England’s back-line with subtle and perfectly weighted passes only for Lukaku’s heavy touch to kibosh the chance. The striker, four times a scorer in Russia, was substituted on the hour-mark and strode off straight down the tunnel, and was even absent in the post-match huddle out on the pitch.

His chances of claiming the golden boot had died here, with that honour surely now Harry Kane’s to celebrate, unless Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann runs riot in the final. The England captain only really had one sight of goal here, after the excellent John Stones clipped over a fine pass for Raheem Sterling, who squared neatly across the penalty area. Kane has looked as fatigued as anyone of late, and his standing duly leg gave way as he struck his shot. The effort veered wide of Courtois’s post.

Those misses left England watching the post-game ceremony from the fringes, but they have not been peripheral to this tournament. And it has been a while since the nation has had that to celebrate. Southgate and his players can look back with pride.

De Futebol France 1-0 over Belgium!

France defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the World Cup Finals.

The Daily Mail:” A game as fabulous as this should not really have been settled by something so prosaic as a header from a corner.

There is nothing wrong with corners. They have been at the heart of England’s World Cup campaign, after all. But this wonderful, intricate, skilful match deserved something more memorable to decorate it.

Instead, the whole thing came down to one of football’s oldest facets, a battle of strength and will between two big, athletic men at the near post.

This one was won by Samuel Umtiti over Marouane Fellaini and, as the Barcelona defender’s header crashed into the goal early in the second half, Belgium’s carefully constructed World Cup campaign collapsed.

So, it is Didier Deschamps’ France who await the winner of England v Croatia in Sunday’s final, but whoever they face, Les Bleus will start as favourites. Against a beguiling and dextrous Belgium side, France began slowly here but grew inexorably and purposefully into the game. By the end, they were worthy winners.

France did not start this World Cup with elan but they have got steadily better, advancing through the tough half of the draw by beating Argentina, Uruguay and now Belgium.

They are three teams of substance and three victories from which France will take confidence. Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and the mesmerising Kylian Mbappe were magnificent last night.

We should feel sympathy for Roberto Martinez and Belgium, who have brought much to this World Cup. At times in the first half they looked as though they would unlock France and, had they scored first, they may have walked away with this semi-final.

But for all their possession and neat patterns, they could not find a way to hurt France. Hugo Lloris made only two significant saves all night, one from a first-half shot by Tottenham club-mate Toby Alderweireld, the other from Axel Witsel’s drive.

Martinez may ask himself why he stuck with the bespoke system he used to beat Brazil rather than reverting to his usual back three.

In the centre of the field, Mousa Dembele was run ragged by Pogba and Kante.

He was the weak link in this Belgium XI and France exploited his flat-footedness and lack of pace on the turn.

But this was a game of fine margins. We saw the best two teams in the World Cup and one of them had to lose. The only surprise was that we did not see more goals.

For Belgium, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard ran directly with familiar poise and wit, while the French countered with bursts of their own. Belgium started fast but could not maintain it.

Pogba and Kante began breaking up possession with a surgeon’s precision and looked for the lightning feet of Mbappe or the heft of Olivier Giroud.

Early on, it was Belgium’s game. Hazard and De Bruyne found space between the blue lines and their play just lacked a smart run from Romelu Lukaku or a kindly bounce to bring them tangible joy.

Hazard shot across goal with his left foot in the 16th minute, while a curling effort from the Chelsea player looked destined for the top corner before it struck defender Raphael Varane on the back and went for a corner.

It seemed only a matter of time before Lloris got busy in the France goal and sure enough he was called upon midway through the half.

A corner from the right dropped to Alderweireld 14 yards out and the defender’s shot on the turn was pushed round his right-hand post by Lloris at full stretch.

It was a nice height for Lloris and he got two gloves on it, but it was still a good save.

So the Belgian threat was clear but so was their vulnerability. And when France won a corner courtesy of a Giroud deflected shot in the 51st minute, Umtiti lumbered up to earn his place in history.

Replays showed his header brushed Fellaini’s curls on its way in. The Manchester United player looked bereft but his pain should be eased by the knowledge he has had a good World Cup.

There had been signs before the goal that the France threat was growing. Thibaut Courtois’s foot had denied Benjamin Pavard late in the first half and Antoine Griezmann had gone close.

Dries Mertens replaced the drowning Dembele and Belgium came again courtesy of a Fellaini header. But France were emboldened by a sense of opportunity and would not let Belgium in.

They defend well, this France team. At the business end of an entertaining World Cup, it remains a fundamental skill. As does the taking of good corner kicks.

De Futebol Belgium dominates Brasil 2-1! Belgium and France hook up in the Semifinals

Brasil crashed and burned out of the World Cup. Belgium took it to Brasil winning 2-1 to advance to the semifinals where they will duke it out with France.

The Daily Mail:” It was a picture of devastation at the end: Neymar down on his haunches and Fernandinho flat on his back, staring into the black night sky after their nation’s third quarter final loss in four World Cups.

What Brazil discovered last night is that all the old assurances about football supremacy have gone. Belgium, a nation of 11 million people, have developed the technical and tactical capacity to beat Brazil, a nation of 207 million.

They out-thought and out-played them for 75 minutes of quite stunning counter-attacking football from which Tite’s side could not find a way back, despite two gilt-edged chances in a devastating finish of their own.

There will be an understandable sense of South American injustice today. As the Belgians tired in the last 15 minutes, Brazil seemed justified in their demands for a penalty after Jesus nutmegged Vertonghen and seemed to be clattered by Kompany. VAR ruled that the ball had already run out of play, though it was in play at the moment of Kompany’s initial contact.

But Belgium did enough. Their golden generation, whose ascent to the higher plateau has been long awaited, delivered at last. And on a night which enhances Roberto Martinez’s hugely, their tactics were smarter, surprising Brazil for a first half which saw the game put out of their reach.

Martinez switched Romelu Lukaku to the right of the attacking line and created space to deploy de Bruyne as a withdrawn striker, driving forward between the midfield and defensive lines. Though the usual back three also became a four as soon as they fell out of possession, Belgium took the bold risk of keeping two men up.

‘I think that when you play Brazil, you have to get a tactical advantage,’ Martinez said last night. ‘It would be too easy to hope that you bring your game and win the football game. We had to be brave, tactically.’

Brazil contributed to their own fate, too. The suspension of Casemiro – the granite-like presence in front of the Brazilian defence – had always seemed beforehand to create a chink of light for the Belgians but no-one imagined quite how much.

Defensively, they were fragile. The pace of de Bruyne, with Lukaku and, gradually, Hazard, blew a hole through heart of their side.

There was early good fortune for Belgium. Nacer Chadli’s inswinging corner glanced off the top of Vincent Kompany’s head and was diverted in off the Manchester City midfielder’s shoulder.

But it was as they looked to draw level that Brazil looked vulnerable. They left space behind and Belgium had them precisely where they wanted. Lukaku’s contribution had been erratic for the first half hour but gained possession in front of his own penalty area, stormed beyond Fernandinho and drove a ball out right to De Bruyne.

Marcelo allowed him the Manchester City player a criminal amount of time to stop, assess and and take aim, which he did despatched the ball into the bottom left hand corner.

‘I think we switched things up, tactically speaking,’ de Bruyne reflected. ‘Brazil didn’t know what they had to do.’ Marouane Fellaini added steel in a monumental display at the back of the Belgium midfeild and Jan Vertonghen contributed to Belgium’s fierce defensive resolve.

For Brazil, there was no way through. Neymar was a marginal presence. Gabriel Jesus skewed a headed chance he was presented with. Coutinho was reduced to taking aim from distance.

Tite went all out for salvation and to turn back the weight of history. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino was sent into a 4-2-4 formation and the side did begin find a way back.

After the penalty appeal, Jesus made way for Douglas Costa on the hour and he was dangerous. Thibaut Courtois’ leap to his right to save was part of a monumental display from him.

For pure, individual attacking talent, Belgium continued to deliver what generations have come to expect of Brazil. In the blink of an eye, they cleared two thirds of the field and almost scored again. Chadli dispossessed Fernandino on the Brazil right and found De Bruyne, who flashed a left foot shot inches wide.

As Brazil drove on and on, looking for a foothold in the game, it became a question of whether the Belgians could on. With 15 minutes to run they were tiring, Fellaini and the defenders were struggling to find the same competitive intent which had put them on the brink of this victory.

The attacking menace all came through Coutinho who was given a fraction of space on 767 minutes which allowed him to deliver the cross for which substitute Renato Augusto leapt, this time leaving Kompany and Alderweireld standing, to direct home a header.

Then, the two chances which will be haunting Brazil today. Augusto ran through on goal, fed by Coutinho, and blasted wide. Coutinho ran in himself, fed by Neymar, and did the same.

In the aftermath, Tite rejected the Europeans – who have all four semi-final berths – possess a pragmatism that the South Americans lack.

‘It’s a team that solid and aggressive,’ he said. ‘Randomness happens and it was harsh on us. There are European teams left – that is normal. I dont think [pragmatism] is a determining factor.’ So Brazil repair home, their wait for a sixth World Cup extended to 20 years at least, wondering what they must do to clinch it again.

De Futebol Brasil defeats overrated Mexico 2-1! Two goals down Belgium scored a 3-2 win over Japan

Yes! Brasil is on to the quarterfinals with a hard fought 2-0 win over Mexico. The so-called experts told us Mexico is better than Brasil. Not so fast bucko Brasil wins with a total team effort.

So once again the experts were and are wrong. The Conventual wisdom is wrong once again.

So how can these clowns be called experts when they are wrong all the time?

Go figure!

With each match Brasil is playing better and better.

The difference is that Brasil is one hundred percent better on defense.

Goals by Neymar 51st minute and Roberto Firmino 88th minute to seal the deal for guys.

Belgium had the scare of their lives when Japan jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Belgium clawed their way back to earn a 3-2 win over Japan.

Brasil-Belgium will battle in the quarterfinals.

The Daily Mail put it this way: “Nacer Chadli’s dramatic 94th-minute winner — going from one end to the other in 9.94 seconds — completed an incredible Marouane Fellaini-inspired comeback to break Japanese hearts.”

The Guardians Jonathan Wilson:” Beneath the fancy hair, the absurd solipsism and the antics of a latter-day Sun King, it is good to be reminded sometimes that Neymar is an exceptionally gifted footballer. It was his goal that broke the deadlock and if his influence on this game was far more positive than in any in the group stage, it was almost entirely because he played without that same furious determination to be the protagonist.

But, of course, he is the same Neymar, the same diva who must always be the centre of attention. Just when everything seemed to be going well, just when it seemed there might be an argument he was growing into his role, he reacted ludicrously as Miguel Layún picked the ball from between his feet as he lay by the side of the pitch. Perhaps the Mexican midfielder did brush his ankle, but the fourth official was roughly six inches away and saw nothing untoward, and neither did VAR.

Neymar, though, bucked and writhed as though he had just trodden on the third rail. Within seconds, once no card had been produced, he was back up and running as normal. It was hard to paint that as anything but the most scandalous simulation by a player who combines the most sublime skill with the most shameful self-indulgence.

It was a great shame, for until then everything had been going so well, both for Neymar and the team that keeps threatening to emerge from his shadow. Until they tired towards the end of the first half, Mexico had controlled possession and territory. Neymar had been reduced to a peripheral role, an occasional outlet, played high up field to be a conduit for breakaways, to attack Edson Álvarez, something he did so well in combination with Philippe Coutinho that it was Brazil who looked the more dangerous. But at half-time it remains goalless and there was a sense that Brazil could be facing a long battle in the sapping heat.

But six minutes into the second half Neymar picked up the ball on the left. In familiar style he skipped inside, scuttling past his full-back. Mexico got back, packed the edge of the box. It seemed certain that Neymar who take on a right-footed shot and the ball would be blocked. But then he did something utterly unexpected: he passed.

It was a backheel, but this was not one of his needless tricks designed to showcase his own ability or demean a defender, punishing them for having the temerity to stand up to him. This was a pragmatic backheel, one that changed the shape of the attack, that set Willian, making a crossover run in space on the left side of the box. He crossed low and Neymar was there at the back post to claim his reward.

As a parable of the benefits of playing for the team it could hardly have been bettered.

The goal was not just a symbol of Neymar’s improved display, but of Tite’s clever game plan. There were moments of rapid interplay, little darts and flurries that gave an indication of potentially great side lying not too far beneath the surface. For all that Mexico offered the idea of a threat, only a string of fine saves from Guillermo Ochoa, reprising his excellent display against Brazil in the last World Cup, prevented Brazil from having the game comfortably sewn up before the hour. The game was eventually sealed by Roberto Firmino a minute from time. Neymar will claim an assist, although there is no doubt he was shooting when Ochoa deflected the ball into the path of the Lverpool forward.

But this side is about far more than Neymar. his is a Brazil of many parts that are looking increasingly coherent despite a possible weakness at full-back. Fagner, brought in at right-back in place of Danilo, struggled against both Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano, who switched flanks repeatedly as though both were desperate to have a go at Dani Alves’s replacement’s replacement.

Set against that apparent vulnerability, though, is Brazil’s most underrated quality. They are prepared to play without the ball, prepared to draw opponents on, and the two central defenders, Thiago Silva and Miranda, protected by Casemiro, are good enough to at least restrict the clear chances they give up.

Yet to an extent Mexico were complicit in their own impotence. It has been a feature of Mexico’s tournament so far that they do not make the most of their chances, that they sweep forward in green waves that do not necessarily produce much, a result of a lack of ruthlessness with the final ball and perhaps of a reluctance on the part of the midfield to get forward and support the forward line. Decision-making, again and again, let them down.

But it would be wrong to portray this as the Germany game redux, just with a different result. There was a sense of control about Brazil that Germany never approached, a feeling throughout that they were holding Mexico at arm’s length, restricting them, by the end, to hopeful charges at the box or speculative long-range efforts.

It was a game won with an impressive defensive performance and enough attacking flair that it always seemed a matter of when rather than if they would score. There are even signs that Neymar is beginning to use his talent for the collective.

De Futebol Belgium Defeats England 1- to Win Group G

England and Belgium fielded their second teams in this showdown. Belgium won 1-0 to win Group G with nine points.

England is second with six.

Belgium will battle Japan while England has a hot date with Colombia.

In Group H,Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0.

Japan lost to Poland 1-0

ESPN: “Three thoughts from Belgium’s 1-0 victory over England in their Group G decider.

  1. Januzaj seals top spot for Belgium

In the end, Adnan Januzaj’s second-half winner banished any suggestion of Belgium wanting to avoid victory — yes, victory — against England but the former Manchester United winger’s goal was a rare highlight of a bizarre Group G game in Kaliningrad.

Having seen first-half bookings for Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker cheered by Belgian fans keen to avoid a possible quarterfinal clash with Brazil — the bookings ensured Belgium would lose a fair play head-to-head with England — Januzaj’s curling strike on 51 minutes was a celebrated with surprising passion by the Belgians and their supporters.

The goal also ensured that Belgium topped the group and booked a last-16 clash with Japan in Rostov, consigning England to a match-up with Colombia in Moscow and a much less formidable opponent in the quarters in Switzerland or Sweden if they make it past the South Americans.

With both managers making wholesale changes having already secured qualification from the group, the two teams played with so little intensity during the first half that they were booed and jeered by local fans inside the ground at half-time. Belgium, reputedly keen to finish second to avoid that potential clash with Brazil, stepped up a gear in the second half though, breaking the deadlock through Januzaj.

Marcus Rashford had a subsequent chance to equalise for England and reclaim top spot but he missed his chance and let Belgium off the hook.

Time will tell as to the pros and cons and finishing first and second but both England and Belgium will expect to overcome Colombia and Japan respectively in the round of 16.

  1. Freshness could be crucial for Belgium and England

Having got this strange game out of the way, both Belgium and England can now focus fully on going deep into the World Cup knock-out stages and their fresh legs could be crucial. Each manager exploited the luxury of resting key players for this game and despite the controversy it may generate, both Roberto Martinez and Gareth Southgate arguably have to play the long game in this World Cup.

The two teams have had a relatively stress-free progression from Group G and been able to rotate their squad, but their potential rivals have not. Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia have all been pushed to the limit in their groups, with only France having a similarly easy ride into the round of 16.

England and Belgium still have plenty left in the tank for the knock-out stages but how much will the group games have taken out of their rivals?

Former England defender Gary Neville told ESPN FC recently that the successful teams in major tournaments are often the most resilient rather than the best and England and Belgium have an advantage in terms of resilience because their energy levels should be higher than virtually everyone else’s.

  1. Januzaj still has potential to be a star

Januzaj has often been accused of coasting through his career and potentially wasting the huge talent he was born with, but on a night when most of his teammates and opponents were taking it easy, the former Manchester United winger showed he can still make his mark at the top level.

His goal early in the second half, when he cut inside and curled a left foot shot beyond England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, was one of the best of the tournament so far and a real glimpse into Januzaj’s capabilities.

Since bursting onto the scene as a teenager under David Moyes at Old Trafford, Januzaj has drifted through loans at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland and is now attempting to rebuild his career at Real Sociedad. Now 23, he still has time to hit the heights once again and his goal in this game will give him a real confidence boost.

When he emerged at United, he toyed with the idea of playing for England due to his eligibility for a number of international teams but he chose the country of his birth in April, 2014 when he decided to represent Belgium. He almost missed out on Roberto Martinez’s 2018 squad after a poor season in Spain but the Belgium coach showed his faith and Januzaj paid him back with his goal and performance in Kaliningrad.

In contrast, another United wonderkid had an off-night, with Marcus Rashford unable to inspire England as Januzaj did for Belgium. Rashford had the opportunity to equalise for England with a great chance but shot horribly wide instead.

Rashford and Januzaj are undeniably big talents, but they’ve both had their ups and downs.”