and losing to this England.
Belgium isn’t having a good time of it lately but surely playing this bad and losing to this England, no matter how lucky the goals, is the lowest point but apparently England are now world beaters.
When Kevin de Bruyne talked up England before the game I figured it was just a bit of gamesmanship, knowing too well that England players are very quick in becoming Billy Big Bollocks. Talk ’em up, get them full of themselves and then bring ’em back down to earth. The thing is he seems to have talked his own side into believing it.
Belgium had most of the first half but didn’t take real advantage, with only the 16th minute penalty to show for it. Southgate had brought back his favourites, Rice and Maguire were sucked in leaving Dier to handle Lukaku. Dier didn’t have to slide in, contrary to all the reports you’ll have read the Belgian striker hadn’t skinned him, wasn’t past him, he just needed to shepherd him but when he did go for the tackle his foot got caught in the turf, if he was going to get the ball this stopped it.
Dier could have no complaints about the awarding of the spot-kick. Though of course he did.
As said Southgate brought back his favourites. So we had Maguire, useless all season, playing on the left of the central three so Dier had to be switched to the middle. Walker on the right where he doesn’t like to play. Trippier at left-back and a midfield of Rice and Henderson, which much like all the midfields he picks in this formation, doesn’t work as it errs on the side of caution, so there’s no creativity or go forward involved.
Belgium could have been ahead earlier but a late offside call cancelled the goal but from taking the lead they didn’t press England and almost did an England by letting their opponents get back into it. Well, by back into it I mean England getting set pieces. As of late it looked like the only way they were gonna get anything. And so it came a few corners won and then Henderson does a dying swan act. Full Viera scream for a slight touch to the shoulder and the ref buys it. It was so bad that even the one eyed commentators, on all channels, sounded embarrassed. Rashford put away the spot-kick – in the absence of Kane.
Something must have happened at half-time. Southgate took a wrong turn and ended up in the visitor’s dressing room. Because Belgium came out after the break and resembled England after a Southgate team talk. They totally let England into it. Allowing England to move further up the pitch there still wasn’t that connect between the front three and the rest and certainly no really creativity.
The pundits all saying that Southgate was proved right in picking Mount over Grealish, due to the former getting the winner. But why did it have to be either or? Why couldn’t it be both? And if Southgate thinks a very lucky goal justifies his decision, then. It was very lucky. Started well, with a cross from Alexander-Arnold over from the right to Trippier, who made his way into the box on the left. He headed back to Mount – who have switched over to the left after spending most of the game wandering about doing nothing and getting nothing on the right – he jinked, got enough space on his right for a shot but it looped wickedly off Toby’s foot to give the keeper absolutely no chance.
Harry Kane had been brought on just before the goal and should have sealed the victory but made the type of mess of a header you would not expect from him. Belgium had one real great chance to draw level but from de Bruyne’s beautiful curling ball through the channel the wing-back could only place it wide of Pickford and the goal. While de Bruyne was running things in the first half, he faded and was eventually replaced with a quarter of an hour to go.
Now while both teams were missing players, you feel Belgium missed their more. Yes not having Harry start is a big loss, or it would be if anyone would actually provide him with any service and he didn’t have to go chase the ball and become the main provider himself. Sterling is no miss. But you’d figure with Hazard and Mertens the visitors would have been more dangerous especially up against Maguire and Walker. They might have actually tested Pickford.
This is embarrassing for Belgium to end that long unbeaten run to a side like England who just don’t win games that matter against top teams. What’s this, the third in years?
Of course now pundits, players and management are taking it up. Oh, it shows how they can compete, can do so when not playing well. Oh they’re gonna do well in the Euros after this. It’s the sort of result to see them draw against Denmark.