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Sports

REUTERS
July 13, 2018

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Belgium and England reluctantly meet again

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia: Belgium and England have already met during the World Cup in a match both teams seemed reluctant to win and on Saturday (tomorrow) they will face each other again in a game they both seem reluctant to play.

The two sides must pick themselves up and dust themselves down after suffering the crushing disappointment of semi-final defeats to play for the modest prize of third place in a fixture often criticised as pointless.

“It’s not a game any team wants to play,” said England manager Gareth Southgate after his team lost 2-1 to Croatia after extra time in Wednesday’s second semi-final.“Of course, we want to win, we’ll be ready to go again because the team take great pride in their performances. It’s a bit too early after that defeat to think about it.”

His Belgian counterpart Roberto Martinez was similarly unenthused about the game after his side were beaten 1-0 by France on Tuesday.

The two teams previously met in their final group stage game when both had already guaranteed a place in the last 16 — with the twist that the side who finished second would land in the easier side of the draw.

Martinez switched nine players and Southgate brought in eight, a decision he described as a “no brainer” in the circumstances.

Belgium won 1-0 and were rewarded with games against Japan, Brazil and France while England played Colombia, Sweden and Croatia but the end result for both sides was the same — semi-final elimination.

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