Next ! While Poland was not enough to stop a conquering French team, the English are candidates to eliminate the Blues and display a CV more worrying than those of the previous opponents of the Habs. Semi-finalist of the 2018 World Cup, finalist of Euro 2021, England arrives in the quarters after crushing Senegal (3-0) this Sunday.
Like the Blues, England inherited an affordable group. The “Three Lions” managed a brutal entry into the competition, without pity for Iran (6-2). They were then hampered by American intensity on matchday two (0-0) before taking advantage of Welsh weakness and Marcus Rashford’s fiery legs (3-0) to secure the lead. B group.
The English did not tremble before facing Senegal this Sunday. Facing the Senegalese Lions, the men of Southgate proved their ability to raise their level when adversity escalated. France will have to be wary of English highlights. The latter sometimes purred before pressing the « On » button and chaining goals and opportunities.
If they are very realistic in attack (12 goals in 4 games), they have shown a certain defensive fragility when the pressure intensifies.
The key players
During the Russian World Cup, Harry Kane had scored half of the twelve English goals. Four years later, he did not score in the group stage and turned into a passer. The Tottenham striker shines in a suit that is more reminiscent of a number 10 than a pure centre-forward. His three assists helped shine the light on the long-toothed young lions.
Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford notably benefited from the caviars of their experienced captain (29 years old). The two players mentioned did not start in the first two games but took care of their statistics against Wales. Rashford scored three times and multiplied the series of devastating dribbles. Spared against the Welsh, Bukayo Saka brought his freshness while Jude Bellingham brings the going to a midfielder little attracted by the opposing goal during the last Euro.
The history between France and England is rich with 31 confrontations but we have to go back to 2012 to remember a duel in an official match. In the group stage of the Euro, Samir Nasri had scored the equalizing goal for the Blues (1-1) before placing his index finger on his mouth. The two formations had neither the look nor the strength exhibited ten years later.
Difficult to find lessons from the two games played since. The match won by England in 2015 (2-0) followed the attacks of November 13. In 2017, the French had obtained the victory (3-2) against an unexciting English eleven. Among the starting players five years earlier, only Kane, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, or even Eric Dier, should be on the pitch next Saturday.
Before the eighth against Senegal, Gareth Southgate had refused to mention a quarter against the Blues. An ironic nod to the past: in 2016, the « Three Lions » would have crossed the tricolor road in the quarterfinals, if they had not fallen against Iceland. At the time, coach Roy Hodgson dared to project a potential Franco-English duel.