Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/5
In what is a real European showdown on Saturday night, England will meet defending champions France at the Al Bayt Stadium for a quarter-final battle.
Starting with England, while the Three Lions might have come under some scrutiny for their 0-0 stalemate against the USA on November 25th, Gareth Southgate’s side have largely impressed this winter. Now coming off the back of consecutive 3-0 romps against Senegal and British rivals Wales, the mood in their camp should be at a real high. Although the European giants might have endured a Nations League nightmare earlier in the year as they lost their League A status, the Whites appear to have put those issues behind them. Opening their World Cup adventure with a thumping 6-2 victory against Iran last month, Southgate’s side have also continued to shine with their free-scoring displays in the final third. Along with signing off their pre-tournament preparations with an action-packed 3-3 draw at home against Germany, England have already notched 11 World Cup strikes this winter.
Opening his World Cup account at the fourth attempt against Senegal last weekend, Harry Kane will once again lead England’s charge on Saturday night. The England skipper could be joined in attack by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka after the 21-year-old bagged his third goal of the winter.
Southgate is likely to once again select a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham at the Al Bayt Stadium.
As for France, while the defending world champions might have signed off their Group D campaign with a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Tunisia earlier in the month, Les Bleus have proven that was just a minor blip. Booking their quarter-final ticket thanks to a deserved 3-1 romp against Poland last weekend, Didier Deschamps’ men are seen as a leading contender this winter. Although the European heavyweights might have endured their own Nations League struggles throughout 2022, they have impressed many in Qatar. Opening their Middle Eastern adventure with back-to-back 4-1 and 2-1 victories against Australia and Denmark, France should also be boosted by their most recent meeting against the Three Lions. Clinching a lively 3-2 win when they welcomed England to Paris for a friendly showdown back in 2017, Deschamps’ star-studded squad will be desperate to lay down another marker here.
While Kylian Mbappe might have missed a training session earlier in the week, the PSG superstar will spearhead France’s charge after notching five World Cup strikes this winter. Becoming Les Bleus’ all-time goalscorer earlier in the month, Olivier Giroud will partner Mbappe in attack here.
Real Madrid’s 22-year-old Aurelien Tchouameni should be joined by Adrien Rabiot at the heart of Deschamps’ midfield on Saturday night.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides last faced off back in 2017, France picked up a 3-2 victory in an international friendly.
- Including a knockout stage brace against Poland last weekend, Kylian Mbappe has racked up five World Cup strikes this winter.
- Along with their 3-0 victory against Senegal last weekend, England have recorded 12 World Cup goals so far.
- France have recorded just a single clean sheet in any of their previous 10 contests across all formats.
- Seven of the last eight meetings between England and France have finished with over 1.5 goals.
Two European heavyweights who breezed their way to the quarter-finals with their own flurries last weekend, neutrals will be hoping for a lively affair on Saturday night. With England already racking up 12 World Cup strikes this winter, Southgate’s side will be desperate to spring an upset here. However, watching Deschamps’ side claim a routine 3-1 romp against Poland in their first knockout stage appearance, they certainly hold a fearsome reputation. Nevertheless, while Mbappe might have continued on a record-breaking run this year, Les Bleus have shown some extended issues at the back. It should be noted, with the reigning world champions mustering just a single clean sheet from any of their last 10 matchups across all competitions, we’re backing what could be a frantic affair at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/5