The defending champions France are the only thing standing between England and the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-final. France has an incredible roster of talented players, including Antoine Griezmann, Hugo Lloris, Oliver Giroud and Kylian Mbappé. As France is looking to win their third FIFA Men’s World Cup tournament after their successful 2018 campaign in Russia — and if the last few matches have taught us anything about France’s current state, it’s that they’re looking to win and add a third stair to their top. While most fans believe this to be England’s biggest test and their potential exit point of the tournament, here are the reasons why it could still be in England’s favour with the rising possibility of football coming home.
England’s History In The Knockout Stage
England fans have grown accustomed to seeing the team have an early exit from the tournament in the quarter-finals. Since 1950, England has participated in 16 FIFA World Cups and has exited in the quarter-final seven times. It was only in 2018 that England reached the semi-final after many years but lost to Croatia 2-1. However, this year"s FIFA World Cup run has already marked a turning point for Gareth Southgate and the Three Lions, with no losses and their most remarkable +7 goal difference from the group stage – which is the highest in England’s history – England looks prepared and confident to take on Les Bleus.
Interestingly, England has never lost a World Cup meeting with France, as the French fell short to their neighbours in 1982 where England defeated France 3-1 and in 1966 with the French losing 2-0. Southgate will hope to fire on all cylinders as England has been exceptionally prolific with scoring goals as six out of seven forwards have scored at least 1 goal or more – except Callum Wilson. Yet, France is a formidable team it may not be the same side that lifted the title in Russia as the likes of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kanté are just a few names missing from the French side, France appears to be heavily rely on their generational star, Kylian Mbappé.
Mbappé The Super Star
Mbappé who isn’t a stranger to scoring has scored 5 goals so far in the tournament and is still the tournament’s leader for goals. Mbappé is France"s secret weapon against England, although it is not secret how he has proven to be a dominant force on the pitch with defenders unable to stop him in his tracks.
Even with Mbappé to worry about, England has to approach the match cautiously as Oliver Giroud’s performance as France’s leading and current all-time scorer is a problem for the English side, with Antione Grizemann proving to be a solid contributor in the midfield with Theo Hernandez and Ousman Dembéle finding their way to solidify France’s attacking prowess with two assists between them.
Luckily, England has answers of their own in this matchup, with Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka who are on a redemption tour after the events of EURO 2020 leading the English side with three goals between them. Jude Bellingham has also been a major contributor in the midfield as Bellingham leads England in tackles (11) with a 100% tackle success rate. England has the momentum on their side with an opportunity to cause a potential upset as many consider France to be one of the favourites of the tournament.
If they can secure a win over the defending champions France on 10/12 in Al Bayt Stadium at 19:00 (UK), England will advance to the FIFA World Cup semi-final for the third time since 1966.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images