WORLD CUP PREVIEW

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

WORLD CUP PREVIEW Sat: England v France

After comprehensive wins in their last-16 games, optimism has been growing about England and France’s World Cup chances and the pair meet in a blockbuster quarter-final on Saturday.

The Three Lions made a brilliant start to their campaign with a 6-2 thumping of Iran but were brought down to earth by a 0-0 draw against the USA in a drab affair that had the benefit of all but sealing their place in the Last 16. That was followed up by a comprehensive 3-0 win against a poor Wales side which was exhausted by their 2-0 defeat to Iran, setting up a last 16 tie against Senegal.

The first half of their clash with the AFCON winners was hairy – they lacked fluency in the opening half and carelessness with the ball required Jordan Pickford to make two key saves – but two brilliant interventions from Jude Bellingham set up goals from Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane, and a much more confident side eventually cruised to a 3-0 win.

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Pre-tournament there had been plenty of worries about England, who had been in dreadful for this year, but Gareth Southgate’s men should have plenty of confidence heading into this game.

England have scored 12 goals this tournament, with Bukayo Saka (3), Marcus Rashford (3), Harry Kane and Phil Foden getting on the scoresheet whilst Jude Bellingham has impressed hugely in midfield, where the trio of him, Rice and Henderson worked well against Senegal.

Harry Maguire didn’t have the best first half against Senegal – a comment which arguably also applies to Kyle Walker – but Gareth Southgate’s decision to back him has been vindicated and John Stones has quietly been impressive; There’s reason for England to be hopeful.

England v France
FIFA World Cup 2022 Quarter-Final
19:00 ITV1 / STV / ITVX / STV Player

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD-TO-HEAD
JUN 2017 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 3-2 England
NOV 2015 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY England 2-0 France
JUN 2012 EURO 2012 France 1-1 England
NOV 2010 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY England 1-2 France
MAR 2008 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 1-0 England

ENGLAND
SEP 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE England 3-3 Germany
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP England 6-2 Iran
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP England 0-0 USA
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP Wales 0-3 England
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP England 3-0 Senegal

FRANCE
SEP 2022 NATIONS LEAGUE Denmark 2-0 France
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP France 4-1 Australia
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP France 2-1 Denmark
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP Tunisia 1-0 France
NOV 2022 WORLD CUP France 3-1 Poland

The same could be said of France, too. They had similar pre-tournament doubts to England, especially with injury robbing them of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante in the lead up to the tournament before Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema had to pull out just before their first game against Australia.

They went behind to the Aussies but haven’t looked back since, beating the Socceroos’ 4-1, edging a tight tie against Denmark and topping the group despite a 1-0 loss to Tunisia when Didier Deschamps changed basically his entire team.

They were too good for a disappointing Poland side on Sunday, with Olivier Giroud and a Kylian Mbappe double putting them into the quarter-finals.

All eyes have been on the brilliant Mbappe, whose doubles over Denmark and Poland secured their place in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively. The PSG starlet leads the Golden Boot race with five goals and is 4/7 with starsports.bet to take the Golden Boot award.

His incredible pace – his top speed was recorded at 35.3 km/h against Poland – has proven unstoppable so far and whilst England can claim to be better defensively than France’s opponents so far, Kyle Walker will need an improved performance to keep him quiet.

All the talk has been about Mbappe but France’s forward line has more than compensated for the absence of Karim Benzema, with Olivier Giroud now the record male goalscorer for France, Ousmane Dembele has provided two assists and Antoine Griezmann has been quietly efficient as a link between midfield and attack.

The French midfield pairing of Adrien Rabiot and Aurélien Tchouaméni has stepped upto the plate so far, allowing for France’s attacking threats to shine despite the absence of Pogaba and Kante.

Star Sports are finding it hard to separate the pair – England are 21/20 to qualify with starsports.bet and France are 3/4 to reach the semi-finals – and given the quality available to both managers that seems a fair assessment.

The French make more appeal at the prices, however. Their forward line has worked very well through the tournament and whilst all eyes are on Mbappe – who will be eyeing up Kyle Walker based on their Sunday performances – the holders have a range of threats that have gone under the radar through the tournament.

England have defended well so far – and shown some outstanding quality going forward – but there have been moments of vulnerably that France are capable of exploiting and if they start sluggishly again then being asked to chase the game against a side with such pace could be a step too far for the Three Lions. France make appeal to qualify at 3/4 and to win the game in normal time at 7/5.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI

 


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PROFIT/LOSS (WORLD CUP 2022): LOSS 44.83 points (after matches on Fri 9 Dec, includes TWO GOOD bonus on CAMEROON v SERBIA 28 Nov)
(Will include returns from both the OUTRIGHT and SPECIALS previews too)


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