England and Belgium Look To Limit Changes In Third-Place Match

World Cup 2018 - Belgium vs EnglandNational Teams Will Not Make Wholesale Changes

July 14, 2018, 7:50 a.m.

What we have to decide is who can go again physically. Everybody wants to play, but sometimes it's not a good decision for them to play if the energy is not there," England manager Gareth Southgate said Friday.

According to news analysis by DPA, England have had little time to recover from their extra-time defeat to Croatiaon Wednesday in Moscow and a return to their base camp near St Petersburg well after daybreak the following morning.

Wing-back Kieran Trippier, who could not finish the semi-final towards the end of the extra-time period, has resumed training.

"It won't be exactly the same starting eleven, but we want to make as few changes as possible," Southgate said.

"We want to win a medal, so there's a lot of motivation for us."

The team should also include Harry Kane, who is tournament top scorer with six goals but has Belgium's Romelu Lukaku on his heels with four.

Belgium, beaten 1-0 by France in their semi-final on Tuesday, have had an extra day to recover as the Red Devils seek a best-ever World Cup finish - surpassing their fourth place in 1986.

Third place would also be England's best-ever World Cup on foreign soil, following their fourth place at Italy 1990 and the 1966 World Cup title in their home tournament.

"Belgium have been on a brilliant journey and will want to finish well, and we want to do the same," Southgate said.

"There are some excellent footballers on show and it will be a good test for us. We haven't beaten one of these top teams yet, so we have to take every opportunity we get.

"Southgate described "a really difficult couple of days for us" following the defeat to Croatia after leading following Trippier's free-kick goal in the fifth minute.

"We were 20 minutes from a World Cup final and the reason for us being here was to achieve that big goal," he said.

"For all the players and staff - we got back at 6:30 in the morning - emotionally it has been a couple of difficult days.

"But I have to say, the players are incredible and it is a pleasure to work with them. We feel we owe it as much to ourselves as our public to finish well, we want to finish the tournament well."

Belgium defender Axel Witsel readily admitted: "We didn't want to return to St Petersburg," where they played the semi, but said that they will be fully motivated because "it is important that we finish third."

He said the team also wants to give their coach, Roberto Martinez, who turned 45 on Friday, a belated birthday present.

Martinez insisted that the team wants to end the World Cup on a high, and that like Southgate, he will limit the changes in the line-up.

"We want to win and therefore field the strongest team. But some changes are possible," Martinez said, adding: "Every Belgian football fan deserves that winning feeling at the end of the tournament."

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