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Is England Ready To Take On The Defending Champs?

By Jeff Stinger

England secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Senegal to get their knockout stage campaign on the right foot. The Three Lions move on to the quarterfinals and face defending champions France in their toughest test of the tournament. While it wasn’t easy for the English squad, in the beginning, they survived multiple threats from Senegal in the early minutes. Eventually, Gareth Southgate’s strategies worked like clockwork and allowed the 2020 European Championship runners-up to pick up the pace. Let’s check out how the team looks leading up to the second leg of the knockouts.

Can England deny France its title defense?

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England roars to the quarters

The Three Lions look determined to get that second star on their jersey since their first in 1966. This matchup against France has a long history that will get soccer fans and bettors excited. Very few elements divide the two teams after they sent Poland and Senegal packing in the first knockout stage. Both teams feature league superstars, veterans, and promising players. More than that, the nations have a point to prove. England looks to end their drought nearly six decades ago, while France seeks to become the only team other than Brazil to defend the title.

We are in for a heated battle here. Gareth Southgate and his men are unbeaten in Qatar. Their recent performance against Senegal shows how much chemistry the players established in the last few years of competition. Can they surpass the world champions as +219 game winners?

Powerfully built lineup

England boasts a healthy and talented selection of players. They are spoiled with choices in every position, especially the attacking side. Top goalscorer candidates such as Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, and Phil Foden are locked and loaded. But, eyes are on Southgate and how he sets up his defense and midfield to contain -175 top goalscorer Kylian Mbappe.

This will be the 32nd time both nations face each other, with the English side leading the statistics 17-5-9. The previous World Cup ties between the competitors went to England, who scored wins in 1966 and 1982. However, this will be the first time both sides meet in the knockout stage of a major competition.

Holding off the French firing squad

Following impressive performances by Jordan Henderson, Bukayo Saka, and Harry Kane, the English lineup has a chance to appear in a second-straight World Cup semi-final for the first time in history. In what will be their maiden meeting with France in the knockout stages, many demand a more intense competitive edge against Les Bleus. Though they maintained three-straight clean sheets, England gave up easy chances for their opponents. A side with real offensive strength like France would pose a major threat.

Mbappe’s pair of goals against the Poles take him to five goals at Qatar 2022, putting him two ahead of his closest competitors for the Golden Boot. Olivier Giroud is also on three goals following a record-setting goal that surpasses French top goalscorer Thierry Henry. Having seen the French forwards operate in the last few games, we anticipate most of the damage coming from this end of the squad.

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