The 2022 World Cup quarter-finals conclude with a heavyweight showdown between old foes England and France on Saturday at 7.00 pm.
Harry Kane scored his breakthrough goal in Qatar against Senegal in the round of 16 as Gareth Southgate’s team weathered an early storm to claim an overwhelming 3-0 win.
As one of only four sides yet to lose a World Cup match in Qatar (W3, D1), the Three Lions come into proceedings in high spirits, confident of adhering to the ‘it’s coming home’ promise.
Since lifting the crown in 1966 when they hosted the tournament, England have reached the World Cup quarter-finals seven times.
The Three Lions have built their latest bid on the defensive solidity that inspired their phenomenal run to the European Championship final last summer.
Having kept three clean sheets across four games in Qatar, England seem to have what it takes to deal with France’s intimidating firepower that blazed them past Poland in the previous round.
Led by Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, the author of five World Cup goals this winter, Les Bleus thumped the Eagles 3-1 last time out to maintain their hopes of defending the title.
After netting three times during the group stages to help Didier Deschamps’ side book knockout tickets with a game to spare (W2, L1), Mbappe chipped in with a jaw-dropping brace against Poland.
The 23-year-old has had a helping hand from AC Milan marksman Olivier Giroud, whose three-goal tally in Qatar made him the outright top scorer for France, surpassing Thierry Henry.
England have been eliminated from six of their last eight World Cup knockout games against fellow European rivals.
It’s up to Gareth Southgate to address this elephant in the room as he aims to make history this weekend by becoming the first Three Lions manager to guide the nation to two World Cup semi-finals.
Playing against the odds could be inspirational for England, who, after recording back-to-back 3-0 triumphs over Wales and Senegal, could win three consecutive World Cup outings for the first time since 1990.
Despite his young age, Mbappe is already a talismanic figure for France, with his nation winning all nine World Cup matches with him in the starting line-up.
His immense contribution to Les Bleus’ run to the 2022 quarter-finals has made his country the first reigning champions to participate in the quarter-final of the World Cup since Brazil in 2006.
Mbappe won’t have to do it all on his own if Giroud maintains his outstanding form in Qatar, as he could become the first-ever 36-year-old to score at least four goals in a single World Cup tournament.
England vs France Head-to-Head
Although England and France first squared off in 1923, this is only their third encounter at a World Cup and the first since 1982. The Three Lions have more reason to look forward to this fixture after winning both previous H2Hs at international football’s biggest stage.
England eased past France 2-0 in 1966 en route to winning their only previous World Cup trophy and claimed an equally convincing 3-1 victory in the 1982 group stages.
However, the more recent H2H stakes heavily favour Les Bleus, as they’ve only lost one of their last eight matches against the Three Lions in all competitions (W5, D2).
It’s worth noting the sides last met in June 2017, with France running out 3-2 victors in a friendly.
England vs France Team News
Aside from Arsenal’s Ben White, who left the camp for personal reasons without making an appearance in Qatar, Southgate has the remainder of his squad fit and ready.
What’s even more important is that none of England’s players are at risk of being banned for the prospective semi-finals if they pick up a yellow card.
Jules Kounde and Aurelien Tchouameni will have to take a cautious approach if they want to remain available for selection should France prevail here.
Unlike his Three Lions counterpart Southgate, Deschamps has lost two significant pieces for the Qatar showpiece as Lucas Hernandez already joined Karim Benzema on the sidelines on matchday one.
England vs France Potential Line-ups
England (4-3-3): Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham; Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Phil Foden.
France (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Antoine Griezmann, Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe.
England vs France Prediction
For neutrals, this should be a treat and we’d rather avoid giving anyone the upper hand.
Both teams boast numerous top-class players, making it almost impossible to give any educated guess.
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