Jordan Pickford England and Everton
Jordan Pickford

England beat Senegal while France knocked out Poland in their respective Round of 16 ties and these two giants will now face each other in an epic quarter-final duel.

The two sides have been in fine form in the World Cup and this is easily going to be the biggest game so far in Qatar. England are still undefeated in the tournament whereas France have stumbled once – a 1-0 loss to Tunisia.

The time these two sides met in a competitive scene was way back in the 2012 Euro and that group game ended in a 1-1 draw. England are in slightly better form right now but France have been playing some fine football themselves so it’s very hard to predict an out-and-out favourite for this Saturday.

However, we will try and outline the three major aspects which will likely determine the outcome of the England vs France tie at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Kylian Mbappe vs England’s defence:

This one is a no-brainer because Kylian Mbappe has been on fire in the World Cup. So far, he’s scored five goals along with two assists and if this lion cannot be tamed then it will be very hard for England to win on Saturday.

Even though England have been playing really well but to be brutally honest, their defence hasn’t been tested too much. They haven’t had to deal with fast-paced attacking football yet so it will be interesting to see how Southgate plans to handle Mbappe.

Kyle Walker and Mbappe will come face to face on the right flank and while the Manchester City defender does have pace but he’s just come back from a long injury layoff. Someone like Henderson or Bellingham will have to double up with Walker or else there’s no stopping the French wizard.

Harry Maguire and John Stones has done really well so far but it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of Giroud and Griezmann. The French attack is by far the strongest that the England will be facing so far and now, they will have no margin for error.

Jordan Pickford will also play a key part because he will have to play as a proper sweeper or else Kylian Mbappe will tear England’s defence to shreds.

A major midfield battle:

France are playing this World Cup without key midfielders like Pogba and N’Golo Kante but so far, their absence has not been visible.

Rabiot and Tchouameni have done a great job in the middle of the pitch but all that could change in the England vs France tie.

Jude Bellingham has been a class apart for England in this tournament and if Deschamps cannot find a plan to stop him and Declan Rice then it will be almost impossible for France to progress to the semis.

Much like the Senegal game, Jordan Henderson will likely be the third midfielder and he will be the trump card for Gareth Southgate. He will have to be the one to force the French midfielders into making a mistake and if he can do his job well then Rice and Bellingham are going to have a field day.

Phil Foden could be the trump card:

Manchester City winger Phil Foden ran the show against Senegal, providing two assists and his habit of drifting in and around the final third could prove to be a headache for France.

Foden usually starts out wide but he has the license to roam everywhere on the pitch and this is something the French defenders have to identify and stop.

Also, Harry Kane has the habit of coming deep to link up play which then allows Foden to run into the blank spaces. This means the likes of Varane and Kounde cannot afford to play a high line. With his pace, if Foden is allowed to run in behind the defence then it’s curtains for France.

Foden can be a scorer as well as a provider so if France find a way to stop him then they have the chance to turn England’s attack worthless. Ideally, the England youngster will have to be man-marked all throughout the pitch with the French defenders and the midfielders taking turns to do so.