ALEX CROOK

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

ALEX CROOK PREVIEW: England v Belgium

Star Sports football ambassador Alex Crook previews England’s international friendly match with Belgium


🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ENGLAND v BELGIUM 🇧🇪
Tuesday, 7.45pm

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England bid to bounce back from a rare Wembley defeat when they host Belgium on Tuesday night.

The Three Lions limped to a tame 1-0 reverse at home to injury-hit Brazil on Saturday and produced the type of uninspiring display that only emboldened Gareth Southgate’s detractors.

Having tipped England to notch up a statement win against arguably the most historic name in world football, I was really disappointed with their performance and I think it underlined two big worries heading into this summer’s European championships, for which Southgate’s men remain 3/1 favourites for glory with starsports.bet.

Firstly, they need a fit Harry Kane in Germany. Ollie Watkins once again failed to impress as the focal point of attack in the absence of the England captain and is struggling to replicate his stellar Aston Villa form on the international stage.

Ivan Toney will be given the chance to prove his credentials in this game in what is effectively an audition for a seat on the plane. Toney is 7/2 with starsports.bet to score the first goal and is the type of personality who will not be overawed by the occasion and what could be at stake in the near future if he performs well.

The other area of concern ahead of the Euros is at the other end of the pitch as England offered up Brazil far too many chances and simply cannot afford to be so generous to the opposition once the proper football gets underway.

The fact Harry Maguire’s injury is a problem for Southgate despite his struggles at club level highlights a lack of depth in the centre of defence and there is also a problem at left-back caused by Luke Shaw’s continued fitness battle. Ben Chilwell is also still feeling his way back to full sharpness and, in any case, looks more at home as a wing-back than an out-and-out full-back.

Southgate will also be forced into a reshuffle on the right side of his back line after Kyle Walker returned to Manchester City with an injury and it is likely Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa will deputise while Brighton defender Lewis Dunk is expected to step into Maguire’s role.

Teenage Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is also set to make his full international debut, which is enough to get me excited for the game.

With such a make-shift line-up you have to fancy Belgium to get on the scoresheet and both teams to score is the standout selection at 9/10 with starsports.bet

The visitors also come into the match on the back of a disappointing weekend result having laboured to a 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland in a game they may well have lost but for Evan Ferguson’s penalty miss.

The Red Devils badly missed the creativity of Kevin de Bruyne and the Manchester City star will once again be a key absentee for the visitors.

But Belgium have proved themselves hard to beat since their shock group stage exit from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and are unbeaten in 11 games under new coach Domenico Tedesco, winning eight of those.

Belgium have never won on English soil while the Brazil loss was England’s first at Wembley since their penalty shootout heartache at the hands of Italy in the last European championship final. They have not lost back-to-back games at the national stadium since 2018 and Southgate will be keen to extend that run, even with an experimental line-up.

A draw might just suit both sides and is available at 5/2 with starsports.bet.


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