The thrilling 2018 FIFA World Cup will finally conclude on Sunday when France face Croatia in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Before the final, there's also the small matter of the third-place playoff between Belgium and England. Both teams were defeated in the semi-finals but must play one more game before heading home.
Saturday, July 14
5 p.m. local time/3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET, Belgium vs. England: ITV, Fox
Sunday, July 15
6 p.m. local time/4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET, France vs. Croatia: BBC, ITV, Fox
Belgium vs. England
Belgium and England will meet for the second time at this World Cup in a game Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has said neither team wants to play in, per James Olley at the Evening Standard:
Both teams came agonisingly close to reaching the World Cup final, and the prospect of finishing third is likely to provide scant consolation.
Belgium won 1-0 when the teams met in Group G, with Adnan Januzaj scoring the only goal. Both sides had already secured their qualification to the knockout phase and rested key players.
More changes are expected for Saturday's match, with both managers set to hand their squad players some game time. Southgate offered an update, per Jack Pitt-Brooke at The Independent: "I would be really surprised if Kieran Trippier is out there, Ashley Young too. Jordan Henderson is also feeling his hamstring.
Striker Harry Kane, the tournament's top scorer with six goals, is also a doubt, per Pitt-Brooke. Southgate could turn to Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy or Danny Welbeck instead.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has offered his view on making changes for the game, per The Sun's David Coverdale.
"I am not going to make changes now to give certain players opportunities because they have already received them against England," he said. "Any change will be to make the team stronger. It's a game we need to play at a good level, and we need to have fresh legs. But the players are still very fresh mentally."
Both managers will have their work cut out motivating their players for this one, and the result may well depend on who plays the strongest team.
France vs. Croatia
Southgate on third/fourth place game v #bel: "The honest thing is it is not a game any team wants to play in. We have two days to prepare. We will want to give a performance of huge pride, there is no question about that."— James Olley (@JamesOlley) July 11, 2018
France head into Sunday's final as the favourites to lift the World Cup for the second time after beating Belgium in the semi-finals.
Didier Deschamps has a quality squad and, in Kylian Mbappe, has one of the tournament's standout players. The 19-year-old has lit up the World Cup with his electric pace, goals and skill on the ball. He is a handful for defenders and should cause Croatia problems.
Football writer Dale O'Donnell is backing Mbappe to make the difference:
He will face a Croatia team that showed courage and great resolve to come from 1-0 down to beat England 2-1 in the last four.
Zlatko Dalic's side played extra time for the third consecutive game against the Three Lions. They proved to be the stronger team, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the winner after 109 minutes.
The team does not lack for confidence. Centre-back Dejan Lovren is one player who feels he deserves more recognition:
Mbappe will have fun against Croatia. Potential deciding factor.— Dale O'Donnell (@ODonnellDale) July 11, 2018
Croatia's star men are in the middle of the park, where Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic run the show. JOE.co.uk editor Nooruddean Choudry explained how impressive the former was against England:
Fighting talk from Dejan Lovren. pic.twitter.com/dLb59HNbHc— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 12, 2018
France look to have the stronger and fresher squad going into the game. However, Croatia have proved in this tournament how tough they are to beat. They will feel they can cause yet another upset in what has been an unpredictable World Cup.