Q&A: All you need to know about the World Cup third-place play-off

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England play Belgium in the World Cup’s third-place play-off in St Petersburg on Saturday. Here, Press Association Sport looks at some details of the fixture.

Do teams take this play-off seriously?

Louis van Gaal (right) did not particularly enjoy the fixture in 2014
Louis van Gaal (right) did not particularly enjoy the fixture in 2014 (Mike Egerton/PA)

What is there to gain?

In theory, the title of third place in the World Cup is not something to be sniffed at but, in reality, both teams will be remembered in years to come as beaten semi-finalists, rather than bronze medallists. Outside of the Olympics, third place carries little weight in tournament football. However, there is extra prize money at stake. The third-placed team will take home £18million and forurth-placed £16.6million. And while some may see the game as little more than a friendly, it is a competitive international. The FIFA ranking points could also come in handy when it comes to future seedings.

Are there any other benefits?

Harry Kane has his sights on the Golden boot
Harry Kane has his sights on the Golden boot (Adam Davy/PA)

But that aside, is there much enthusiasm?

Chris Waddle is struggling to get excited about the fixture
Chris Waddle is struggling to get excited about the fixture (Rebecca Maden/PA)

Do all teams see it that way?

No. For teams that have over-achieved in reaching the semi-finals, the fixture gives them an opportunity to end memorable campaigns on a high. In 1994 Sweden talked up the so-called bronze medal match and went out and crushed Bulgaria 4-0. For Croatia, finishing third in 1998, when they were still a new country, was a huge source of national pride.

Why was the fixture introduced?

Italy (pictured) won the 1934 World Cup - the first tournament in which bronze medals were awarded
Italy (pictured) won the 1934 World Cup – the first tournament in which bronze medals were awarded (PA)

Why does FIFA persist with it?

FIFA will hope for a good crowd in St Petersburg
FIFA will hope for a good crowd in St Petersburg (AP)

Has anyone made their name in this fixture?

A stunning curling goal from Brazil’s Nelinho in 1978 often makes World Cup highlights reels. People often do not realise that came in a third-place play-off. Turkey’s Hakan Sukur also made history in the 2002 fixture, scoring the fastest World Cup goal after just 11 seconds.

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