It’s a match at the FIFA World Cup™ which no-one aims to be in, but both Belgium and England will be chomping at the bit to win out in the third-place playoff on Sunday morning (AEST).
The race for the tournament’s Golden Boot could well be decided at Saint Petersburg Stadium, with each nation’s talisman striker still firmly in the running.
England’s Harry Kane has six goals to his name this FIFA World Cup™ with three against Panama, two against Tunisia, and one against Colombia.
The last time an Englishman won the FIFA World Cup™ Golden Boot was back in Mexico 1986 when Gary Lineker scored six goals and England was knocked out in the quarter-finals by a pair of famous Diego Maradona goals.
One more goal for Kane would see him overtake Lineker’s tally in 1986 of six goals, and edge closer to the former Barcelona striker’s total of ten FIFA World Cup™ goals.
“No one has really got close to the record until Harry Kane at this World Cup,” said Lineker, speaking to English media.
“Obviously, I’m reminded about it at every World Cup. It’s something I’m immensely proud of.
“But I would be absolutely thrilled if Harry joins me in having a Golden Boot.
“He’ll want another goal to ensure he gets the Golden Boot and eclipses me – and nobody would be more than happier than me if he does that.”
Romelu Lukaku is the man on Kane’s tail, with four goals to his name this tournament. He scored doubles against both Panama and Tunisia.
No Belgian has ever finished in the top three for the race for the Golden Boot. The most any Belgian player has scored at a single tournament in the past is three goals, with four players achieving that particular feat.
Lukaku is currently his country’s highest ever goalscorer at the tournament, with five goals across two FIFA World Cup™’s.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has been praising Lukaku in the lead-up to the third-place play-off, calling him ‘selfless’.
“Romelu had a great chance to score against Japan but instead provided one of the best assists of the tournament. That sums up his mindset,” said Martinez.
“Romelu wants to succeed for the team, he’s more interested in that than any individual awards.
“I worked with him when he was a kid, when he was 19, his power and pace, he can be strong in the air and he’s a goalscorer.
“If you look at his record he is phenomenal. It’s a difficult question because I love working with him and it’s an honour for me as a manager.”
Neither played in their group stage meeting back on June 29, with both sides resting swathes of key players in preparation for the knockout stage. With third place up for grabs, both nations will likely start full-strength sides.