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It is arguably the biggest marquee matchup of the World Cup quarterfinals: Kylian Mbappé and reigning champion France squaring off against Harry Kane and England with a spot in the semifinals at stake. The soccer rivals are separated by 21 miles geographically — the length of the English Channel — but Mbappé and company have the one thing Kane and his teammates so desperately seek: the Jules Rimet Trophy.
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France vs. England match details and preview
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022
- Start Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
- Location: Al Bayt Stadium
- Participants: France vs. England
- FanDuel Sportsbook Odds (to qualify for the next round): England +104; France -126
It has been 60 years since a team has successfully repeated as World Cup champion, with Pelé’s Brazil side winning first in 1958 in Sweden and then following up with another title four years later in Chile. France, which won its second World Cup title in 2018 in Russia, is looking to emulate the Seleção with its own transcendent talent in Mbappé.
The 23-year-old leads the Golden Boot race in Qatar with five goals, including a second-half brace in Les Bleus’ 3-1 victory over Poland in the round of 16 on Sunday. Both goals showcased Mbappé’s prodigious talents, the first a piledriver from just inside the penalty area that whistled past Wojcech Szczeny and the second a magnificent right-footed effort the Polish keeper could not keep out of the side netting despite getting a glove on it.
Mbappé has nine career World Cup goals in 11 matches, more than Pelé had before the age of 24. Mbappé trails only Just Fontaine among French players, though Fontaine’s single-tournament record of 13 goals in 1958 — also his overall total — is perhaps a bridge too far for the Paris-Saint Germain striker to match in Qatar.
Les Bleus, though, are more than Mbappe. Olivier Giroud, who staked France to the lead Sunday just before halftime, has struck three times in this tournament and became his country’s all-time leading men’s scorer ahead of Thierry Henry with his 52nd career goal for the French national team Sunday. Qatar has given the 36-year-old Giroud — drafted into the starting lineup by manager Didier Deschamps only after Karim Benzema was ruled out through injury — goal-scoring redemption after he failed to place a shot on target in seven matches in Russia.
Also vital to France’s hopes of repeating are Antoine Griezmann. Normally a winger, Deschamps has shifted Griezmann into more of a ball-controlling midfielder to fill the void created by the absences of injured midfielders N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Greizmann does not have any goals in Qatar, but he does have an assist, and his ability to float about in the final third complementing Mbappé and Giroud makes him dangerous.
One thing Les Bleus have not done at this World Cup is post a clean sheet, though keeper Hugo Lloris came close Sunday when the only goal conceded came on a stoppage-time penalty — and after he had stopped an attempt that the referee ordered re-taken. Lloris has plenty of big-match experience — he was between the sticks in 2018 — and the France talisman will be making his 143rd appearance, moving him ahead of Lilian Thuram for most all-time on the men’s side.
England’s goal-scoring has been by more of a committee approach and its 12 goals lead all teams in Qatar. The Three Lions put the screws to Senegal 3-0 on Saturday as Kane became the eighth different player to hit the back of the net. His goal in first-half stoppage time was bracketed by scores from Jordan Henderson and Bukayo Saka.
Saka and Marcus Rashford share the current team lead with three goals apiece, though teenage starl Jude Bellingham also won plaudits with his relentless running versus Senegal. Henderson bossed the midfield in a way expected of the 32-year-old Liverpool captain as the Three Lions posted their second consecutive 3-0 victory and third straight clean sheet.
The status of Raheem Sterling is uncertain after the Chelsea winger flew home to check on his family after a robbery attempt at his residence. Phil Foden, though, is expected to retain his starting spot on the wing. Defensive midfielder Declan Rice is expected to play after dealing with an illness midweek.
There has been much talk about England manager Gareth Southgate potentially switching to a back four to deal with the pace of Mbappé, with much of the pre-match focus on right back Kyle Walker. The Manchester City wide back is one of the few in the world who has the speed to keep up with Mbappé, and pushing Walker wider could prove beneficial.
Though England and France have met 31 times previously, with England winning 17 and France nine, this will be only their third matchup in the World Cup and first knockout-round encounter in any major tournament. The Three Lions have won both prior World Cup matches — a 2-0 victory in 1966 at home en route to their lone title and a 3-1 triumph in Italy in 1982. France has a victory and two draws in European Championship meetings as the stalemates came in 1992 and 2012 around a 2-1 victory in 2004.
Whoever advances to the semifinals will face either Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal or upstart Morocco.
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