England's World Cup starts now with France a formidable quarterfinal opponent

2 months ago 29

11:14 PM GMT

  • Rob DawsonCorrespondent

AL KHOR, Qatar -- For England and Gareth Southgate, the existent concern starts now.

After a tense archetypal 30 minutes against Senegal, the champions of Africa were dispatched with minimal fuss successful the circular of 16 and present comes the signifier of the World Cup erstwhile the big-hitters can't debar each different anymore.

England's reward for their 3-0 triumph astatine Al Bayt Stadium connected Sunday -- earned acknowledgment to goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka -- is simply a quarterfinal necktie against France backmost astatine the aforesaid stadium connected Saturday. It's a day with Kylian Mbappe, having the tourney "of his dreams" with 5 goals successful 4 games, but besides with history.

Because if England are to spell immoderate further they volition person to bash thing they person ne'er done earlier -- triumph a knockout crippled against a large federation distant from Wembley Stadium.

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Going heavy into tournaments isn't caller for Southgate aft reaching the World Cup semifinals successful 2018 and the last of the European Championships successful 2021.

But some times the gully opened up, allowing England to scope the past 4 successful Russia by beating Colombia and Sweden earlier yet losing to Croatia. The different broadside of the bracket included Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and eventual winners France.

It was a akin communicative astatine the Euros, erstwhile England ended up successful a bracket alongside Sweden, Ukraine, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Wales and Denmark leaving Belgium, Portugal, France, Spain and Italy to conflict it retired connected the different side.

Southgate's squad bushed Germany (at Wembley) and past played Ukraine and Denmark for a spot successful the final, wherever they mislaid to Italy connected penalties.

It is, of course, not Southgate's responsibility that caller draws person been kind, but determination tin beryllium small uncertainty that playing holders France connected overseas ungraded is simply a measurement up connected some those campaigns.

"It's the biggest trial we could face," said Southgate. "They're satellite champions. They've got an unthinkable extent of endowment with outstanding idiosyncratic players. It's a fantastic situation and a superb crippled for america to hole for. The 2 quarterfinals that are already successful spot are historical shot rivalries and large games from the past. It's a large crippled for america to beryllium progressive successful and trial ourselves against the best."

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Luis Echegaray is impressed by Jude Bellingham's show successful the England circular of 16 triumph against Senegal.

The build-up volition beryllium dominated by questions astir however you halt Mbappe, who earlier connected Sunday scored doubly successful a 3-1 triumph implicit Poland.

It volition apt drawback France manager Didier Deschamps' attraction that Harry Maguire had a peculiarly uncomfortable commencement against Senegal and looked unnerved by aboriginal unit and pace.

It mightiness person been a antithetic communicative for Senegal had Boulaye Dia not seen a bully accidental good saved by Jordan Pickford with the people inactive astatine 0-0, but aft England scored doubly successful 10 minutes astatine the extremity of the archetypal half, the crippled was implicit arsenic a contest.

France volition not beryllium truthful accommodating and overmuch volition travel down to Southgate and his squad selection. He's utilized a backmost 4 since arriving successful Qatar but it volition beryllium tempted to power to a backmost 5 against France, partially to support Maguire and John Stones against Mbappe's blistering pace. That would mean Kyle Walker playing arsenic the 3rd centre-back with Kieran Trippier coming successful arsenic the close wing-back.

There's a consciousness that Southgate lone likes to play with 4 defenders erstwhile helium knows England are going to predominate the shot and that's not a fixed against a France squad who volition besides privation to play connected the beforehand foot.

Whatever his decision, Southgate tin astatine slightest instrumentality bosom that, truthful far, he's got his large enactment calls right. He chose Henderson implicit Mason Mount and Saka implicit in-form Marcus Rashford against Senegal and some ended up connected the scoresheet.

"Mbappe is simply a world-class subordinate and has already delivered large moments successful this tourney and successful erstwhile tournaments," said Southgate.

"There is besides [Antoine] Griezmann and he's a phenomenal player. There's Olivier Giroud, who we cognize truthful well, and they've got immoderate outstanding young midfield players truthful everyplace you look they've got unthinkable extent of talent. It's a immense trial but 1 we're looking guardant to and a large situation for our team."

When England tally into the large guns astatine the concern extremity of a large tourney distant from home, a level summons location usually follows.

The database of exits since winning the World Cup successful 1966 reads West Germany (World Cup 1970), Argentina (World Cup 1986), West Germany (World Cup 1990), Argentina (World Cup 1998), Brazil (World Cup 2002), Portugal (Euro 2004), Portugal (World Cup 2006), Germany (World Cup 2010) and Italy (Euro 2012). If France isn't to beryllium added to that list, Southgate will, among different problems posed by the existent satellite champions, request to fig however champion to halt Mbappe.

England person been successful Qatar for astir 3 weeks, but the existent enactment is lone conscionable beginning.

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