Previewing the 3rd Place Play-Off

Saturday's 3rd Place Play-off will feature Belgium and England


Part of our 2018 FIFA World Cup Hub

The 3rd place play-off of the world’s biggest sporting event will kick-off on Saturday at 10pm Eastern Time.

It is often argued that it is a useless match that should be cut from future tournaments. Some other major tournaments have done so. This match has consistently had more goals than the average goals per match in their respective World Cups.

Belgium are looking to place 3rd for the first time at a World Cup.


Belgium and England will play in the 3rd place play-off. It will be the 2nd time playing this match for both of these sides, Belgium having played in it at Mexico 1986 and England at Italy 1990. Neither side have ever finished 3rd, although England were champions at England 1966.

They first met in a 1908 friendly in Belgium, which England won 8-2.

Their first competitive fixture would not come until the Group Stage at Switzerland 1954, which ended 3-3 after the 90 minutes, and 4-4 after extra time. This was back when Group Stage matches would go into extra time if tied after 90. Belgium were eliminated and England were eliminated by Uruguay in the next round.

They then met at the Group Stage of Euro 1980, in Italy, which ended 1-1. England were eliminated, and Belgium went on to finish 2nd to Germany.

They met again in Italy, this time in the Round of 16 of the 1990 World Cup, where England won 1-0 after extra time. England would end up finishing 4th.

Their last meeting was in Group G of the present tournament, where Belgium’s bench beat England’s bench 1-0 in a game that neither side were too desperate to win. Since then, England has beaten Colombia on penalties, beat Sweden, and lost to Croatia in extra time. In the meantime, Belgium beat Japan and Brazil, before losing to France.

There is not telling if they will be any more desperate to win this time around. It will be their 4th meeting at the World Cup, and their 2nd meeting at this tournament. Belgium will be considered slight favourites, although that has traditionally not meant much in previous 3rd place play-offs.

Belgium to Win: 56.8%

England to Win: 43.2%


Belgium: A

  • Will not go up even with a win by 5 goals
  • Will go down to A- with a loss by 1 or more goals

England: A-

  • Will go up to A with a win by 2 or more goals
  • Will not go down even with a loss by 5 goals

This match will be the 7th biggest upset in World Cup history if England wins by 5 goals, and the 9th biggest if England wins by 4 goals.

Mika Ryu

Law student at Western University, and UofT graduate in economics and linguistics. Remember that your version of the world is always too simple.

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