The 2018 FIFA World Cup's conclusion is upon us, with Saturday's third-place play-off preceding Sunday's main event, the final.
Belgium and England will meet in the former in a rematch of their group-stage clash, while 1998 winners France will take on first-time finalists Croatia for the right to be crowned world champions.
Saturday, 14 July
- 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET Belgium vs. England: ITV, Fox
Sunday, 15 July
- 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET France vs. Croatia: BBC, ITV, Fox
Belgium vs. England
Given the talent in Belgium's squad, not many people will have been surprised to see them reach the semi-finals of the Word Cup despite their relative lack of pedigree in the tournament beyond reaching the final four in 1986.
England's run was a far cry from their efforts over the past two decades. They won their first knockout game in 12 years after triumphing in a World Cup penalty shootout for the first time before beating bogey team Sweden with relative ease in the quarter-finals.
While they fell short in their extra-time defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals, Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday praised their efforts:
Unlike in their first meeting with Belgium, in which both sides fielded much-changed teams with their progression to the knockout phase assured, the two nations will likely name strong lineups on Saturday.
England have shown they can be a threat to any side, particularly from set pieces, but the Red Devils have proved to be extremely dangerous, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard clicking as the competition progressed.
Football writer Karl Matchett was impressed with Hazard in Belgium's defeat to France:
If their key players have another strong game, it will be difficult for the Three Lions to contain them—the Red Devils should have the edge here.
Prediction: Belgium 2-1 England
France vs. Croatia
Despite a tricky route to the final that comprised Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium, France have managed to progress in fairly routine fashion in the latter two matches.
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe was impressed with their most recent win:
While they may not always excite as much as you would hope given the talent they possess in their ranks, their squad is filled with potential match-winners.
Croatia aren't devoid of quality, either—Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic are a superb midfield trio, while the likes of Ante Rebic, Ivan Perisic and Sime Vrsaljko offer threat out wide—but they are the underdogs here.
They have gone to extra time in all three of their knockout matches and to penalties twice. That fatigue could prove to be the difference against France's pace and technical ability on Sunday.
ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson believes Les Bleus will be fresher come the final:
It could be tight early on, but as Croatia tire in the latter stages, France have the ability to exploit that to devastating effect.
Prediction: France 3-1 Croatia