England have nothing to fear against France, says Bukayo Saka
England have a few days now to recover and prepare for a massive quarter-final tie with France at the World Cup 2022, with the match taking place on Saturday night.
Before then, Gareth Southgate has a number of decisions to make, including whether to change formation to combat the threat of the in-form Kylian Mbappe, who now leads the Golden Boot race in Qatar.
The Three Lions are ready for such a test though, the manager believes, and they’ll all be big games now anyway as the finals reach the last-eight stage. Brazil football are also through after they hammered South Korea, with Argentina, Netherlands and Croatia also through. Spain play Morocco and Portugal face Switzerland on Tuesday in the last of the round of 16 clashes.
Follow all the build-up to England vs France and reaction to Brazil’s big win:
Luke Shaw warns England of being ‘very naive’ against Kylian Mbappe’s France
England beat Senegal 3-0 in their last-16 meeting on Sunday to set up a date with the reigning world champions at Al Bayt Stadium.
Keeping Mbappe quiet would go some way to helping Gareth Southgate’s men to victory on Saturday night, the Paris St Germain forward having already hit five goals in Qatar – including two in their 3-1 win over Poland which saw them advance to the last eight.
But, with the likes of Olivier Giroud – now France’s all-time record goalscorer – and Antoine Griezmann also expected to line up against England, Shaw insists there are plenty of other players to be concerned with.
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 09:45
Morocco warn Spain they will ‘come out swinging’ in World Cup last-16 clash
Morocco have warned Spain they will “come out swinging” in a bid to pull off another huge World Cup upset.
The north African side created one of the biggest shocks in the group phase of the tournament in Qatar with their 2-0 victory over Belgium, having already held 2018 finalists Croatia to a goalless draw.
Walid Regragui’s team finished top of their group and now face a Spain side in the last 16 still reeling from their own unexpected setback at the hands of Japan which almost cost them their place in the tournament.
Morocco are likely to enjoy the majority of the support at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan and Regragui believes the Atlas Lions are now playing for the whole of the African continent and the Arab world.
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 09:30
Japan and Croatia provide reminder of the risk and the reluctance of knockout World Cup football
Half the World Cup 2022 round of 16 was over and done with before we knew it, little of it truly throwing up any possibility of a shock result or, indeed, much doubt over who would progress.
Sure, Australia came within a big Emi Martinez arm of forcing an equaliser, but it was wildly against the run of the game and after one massively deflected goal, and sure, both England and France were frustrated for a bit.
It didn’t last, and once the first goal went in, all uncertainty disappeared.
For all intents and purposes, each of the first four round of 16 clashes were over and done by at half-time, given none gave up their initial lead, and three were absolutely wrapped up by the hour mark.
Which made Monday’s first game, the 1-1 draw between Japan and Croatia, both an anomaly and a reminder: while both dominated in spells, and both looked capable of winning, this was a World Cup knockout game of real note, real possibility to reach a quarter-final and, as a result, a game neither were willing to throw everything at to the extent they might lose everything.
Karl Matchett on the game which reminded everyone of just how much it can cost to lose at the World Cup:
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 09:15
World Cup today: Fernando Santos unhappy with Cristiano Ronaldo
The World Cup 2022’s quarter-final line-up will be completed on Tuesday, with the remaining fixture slot to be filled by the winners from Portugal v Switzerland and Morocco v Spain.
Here, we look ahead to the final day of round-of-16 action in Qatar, and back at how Monday unfolded.
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 09:00
Neymar feared World Cup was over with ankle injury
Neymar admitted he feared his participation in the World Cup could be over after he sustained an ankle injury in their opening match against Serbia.
“I was afraid of not being able to play in this World Cup again but I had all the support of my friends and family and I tried to find strength where I could not find it,” he said.
“I did not feel any pain in my ankle. I think my performance went very well and I’m very content, but that said I think we can always improve and that’s what I will try to do.”
More as the Selecao reached the last eight:
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 08:50
Gareth Southgate believes ahead of England’s true test of how far they have come
England’s last meeting with France came in Saint-Denis five years ago, in what was only Gareth Southgate’s eighth game in charge. The world champions in waiting went down to 10 men that night – Raphael Varane seeing red at the start of the second half, when the score was still level at 2-2 – and a formative, character-building win briefly appeared on the cards. Yet even then, Didier Deschamps’ side deservedly came out on top through an Ousmane Dembélé winner.
It was an entertaining end-of-season friendly with little riding on the result but the defeat and failure to make the most of the man advantage demonstrated how far England had to go before they could be considered among the very best in the international game. “There is no magic wand,” their manager warned. And yet just a year later, had a few things gone differently, their next meeting might have come in a World Cup final.
The pace of progression under Southgate since that evening in the Parisian banlieues has been rapid. If that much was not already clear from England’s results, it is reinforced by a glance at the team sheet from the 3-2 defeat.
Mark Critchley looks into England’s upturn in fortunes ahead of the meeting with France:
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 08:40
Japan’s fairytale run finally runs out of road
Japan have never made it past the last-16 at a World Cup. Failures at 2002 and 2010 still stung when 2018 became the most heartbreaking of all, Nacer Chadli’s latest of late goals seeing Belgium roar back from two down in the second half to beat them at the last.
The pain of that night in Rostov has lived with this Japanese group ever since. “I have never forgotten,” Yuto Nagatomo would say in the build-up to this latest attempt to write new history. He will remember this, too.
Instead it was the same old story, the fairytale this side has been on at this World Cup brutally ended in the most painful fashion possible by Croatia, a bitter final chapter the uplifting tale that came before it didn’t remotely deserve.
Ben Burrows watched on as the World Cup’s first game went the distance:
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 08:30
Brazil put on spectacular exhibition to delight World Cup and reach quarter-finals
It was a game that was basically over as a contest by seven minutes, but that you couldn’t take your eyes off for a second. That was because you might miss Brazil doing something spectacular, audacious or just the sort of moment that makes World Cup highlights for years and has fostered the country’s football lore.
It might have been a Vinicius lift, a Neymar roll or a Raphinha turn – or it could have been many such moments combining for goal after goal after goal, after goal. Qatar certainly got what they wanted in that sense, even if not enough people wanted to watch it given the number of empty seats at Stadium 974.
It didn’t take long for this 4-1 win over South Korea to become a replica of the sort of gaudy exhibition match the state had staged well before hosting a World Cup. If you bring them, some people might come. There was at least no risk in restoring Neymar to the starting XI, since this was just another training game. Tite even got to the point where he was giving squad players like sub goalkeeper Weverton a run-out, as if it was a final group game.
There were some more solemn sentiments, mind, as Neymar carried a Pele flag onto the pitch for the players to showcase.
Miguel Delaney took in Brazil’s big win over South Korea on Monday night:
Karl Matchett6 December 2022 08:18
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