Fired up for third?
England, Belgium prepare for a World Cup bronze-medal game
How do you stay motivated for the game no one wants to play?
England and Belgium have different answers.
After both were eliminated in the World Cup semifinals, a once-in-a-lifetime chance gone, the teams have to play again in Saturday’s third-place game.
As always in English football, coach Gareth Southgate and his men are looking back to the England team which won the World Cup in 1966. Beating Belgium today would give England its best World Cup finish since then, surpassing fourth place in Italy in 1990.
“We have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one English team has ever done, so there’s a lot of motivation for us,” Southgate said Friday. After exceeding expectations by reaching the semifinal, only to lose 2-1 to Croatia in extra time, England wants to keep its positive buzz.
“None of us knows if that’s as good as it gets,” Southgate said. “We’ve raised expectation and I don’t see a problem with that because we’ve also raised belief. We’ve raised their enjoyment of playing. They now associated playing for England with enjoyment, fun, and not being under siege.”
For Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, it’s about leaving Russia with a warm feeling and playing attractive football to inspire the next generation.
Third would be Belgium’s best-ever World Cup performance. It finished fourth in 1986 after losing the playoff 4-2 in extra time to France.