France and England measure their powerful confidence
The champion entrusts herself to a toned Mbappé before the exciting generation of the ‘Three Lions’
MADRID, Dec. 9 (.) –
France and England face each other this Saturday (8:00 p.m.) with the last ticket to the semifinals, a round they reached in 2018, of the World Cup in Qatar at stake, in a duel in which both teams will examine their thriving confidence that has been forged during the tournament, with the French trusting their options to ‘pichichi’ Kylian Mbappé and some Englishmen willing to take advantage of the good moment of an exciting generation.
Didier Deschamps’ team wants to continue making history, undaunted by the curses that have haunted the champions in recent editions. The coach, who with 13 World Cup wins could become the coach with the third most wins in the tournament -behind Shön Helmut (Germany, 16) and Mário Zagallo (Brazil, 14)-, has taken the current champion to the quarterfinals, something that no one had achieved since 2006 -Brazil lifted the trophy in 2002 and in the following edition was eliminated in that round-.
Without following in the footsteps of the three previous champions, France advanced to the round of 16 as first in the group, and beat Poland (3-1) without too many problems in the first tie of the final phase in Qatar. In that duel, Kylian Mbappé, the current top scorer in the tournament with five goals and two assists in four games, was once again decisive.
The PSG striker is hogging all the spotlights and is on his way to becoming, once again, the star of the tournament. He does everything, capable of unblocking his team always with his offensive character and lethal shooting ability. “He has that ability to make the difference. In the last game he wasn’t at his best level, but he continued to be decisive,” Deschamps commented in the preview, after a round of 16 in which the French ’10’ converted a doublet.
The striker is the angular piece of Deschamps’ system, who recovered the four defenders for Qatar and the interior position for Antoine Griezmann. The rojiblanco is putting together an outstanding tournament as a game generator and hinge with an attack made up of the aforementioned Mbappé, the historic Olivier Giroud -the French team’s all-time top scorer (52)- and the improved version of Ousmane Dembélé.
Although the presence of the winger could be ‘in danger’, since the coach could bet on reinforcing the midfield with a third midfielder, for example Youssouf Fofana, who accompanies Aurelien Tchouameni, warned, and Adrien Rabiot, and contains the power English on that plot. There seems to be no doubt in defense, a plot in which he will place Jules Koundé, who could also miss the semifinals if he sees a yellow card, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano and Theo Hernandez.
ENGLAND HAS NEVER LOST TO FRANCE IN A WORLD CUP
England also comes to this all-or-nothing duel with great confidence, after beating Senegal 3-0 in the round of 16 in yet another demonstration of the offensive potential of an exciting generation. The French bone is hard, but the ‘Three Lions’ intend to at least equalize the offensive potential, after converting 12 goals in favor in the tournament, half in their debut against Iran, compared to 9 for the French.
Marcus Rashford and Bakayo Saka with the top scorers (3) of the English team, with the 21-year-old Arsenal winger and Gareth Southgate’s personal bet, as one of the great sensations of the current runner-up in Europe. In addition, the English add for this Saturday the verticality of a Raheem Sterling who would wait his turn from the bench, after rejoining the concentration this Thursday after a family problem.
England, champion in 1966 and who will play their tenth quarter in this tournament, could match what was achieved in Russia 2018, when they fell in the semifinals. However, the English hold on to the good performance of Southgate, who since he took over the bench six years ago has gone through six World Cup and Euro Cup qualifiers, the same as between 1968 and 2016.
The coach has shaped an exciting generation, supported by diamond Jude Bellingham, omnipresent in a team that also has the experience of Harry Kane -two goals away from becoming England’s top scorer-, Jordan Henderson and company. Kyle Walker will be key on the right side, with the aim of stopping Mabppé, in the most attractive duel of the match.
Only two of the more than 30 clashes between the two have taken place in World Cups. In 1966, England won (2-0) in the first phase against a France that fell at the first exchange. The ‘Gallos’ could not take revenge in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when the ‘Three Lions’ won again (3-1) in a date where the ‘Bleus’ were semifinalists. These quarterfinals in Qatar will be their first direct duel in a major tournament tie.
ENGLAND: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson, Bellingham; Saka, Kane and Foden.
FRANCE: Lloris; Koundé, Varane, Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot, Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé; Giroud.
–REFEREE: Wilton Sampaio (BRA).
–STADIUM: Al Bayt Stadium.
–TIME: 8:00 p.m./World Goal and Movistar+.