England have seamlessly breezed through to the quarter-finals, but the path to World Cup glory now becomes significantly significantly more treacherous.
The Three Lions square off against holders France on Saturday evening, in what is a drastic step-up in quality following their comfortable last-16 win over Senegal last week.
Gareth Southgate’s side will enter the clash confident, having kept three successive clean sheets, while scoring three in both of their last two matches. But they’ll also enter the clash knowing it won’t get much easier moving forward.
Gareth Southgate’s England side have a daunting route to World Cup glory in Qatar
Harry Kane (L) and Phil Foden (R) starred as England beat Senegal to reach the quarter-finals
The round of 16 came to a dramatic conclusion on Tuesday evening, with Portugal dropping Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench and his replacement Goncalo Ramos scoring a hat-trick in their stunning 6-1 win over Switzerland.
Morocco, meanwhile, claimed perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament as they knocked out Spain on penalties to reach the quarter-finals.
Now, Sportsmail breaks down England’s potential route to the final below as they look to end 56 years of hurt in Qatar.
The quarter-final – France
England of course know who they’ll be playing in the quarter-final, being France on Saturday evening, with kick-off at 7pm GMT.
Didier Deschamps’ side have undoubtedly been one of the best sides in the tournament to date, with star attacker Kylian Mbappe in scintillating form.
The 23-year-old looks likely to claim the prestigious Golden Boot award – currently held by England’s Harry Kane – with five goals, in addition to two assists, to his name already.
Kylian Mbappe has been in scintillating form at the World Cup, scoring five goals already
France’s players took part in a light open training session on Tuesday – but Mbappe was absent
Mbappe scored twice as France claimed a comfortable 3-1 win over Poland in the last 16.
Kyle Walker is likely to be given the task of marking the electric winger, with most regarding him as the best candidate in world football to do so.
Meanwhile, Kane will be desperate to outshine the Frenchman having notched his first goal of the tournament with a typically ruthless finish against Senegal.
Mbappe was absent from training on Tuesday, but France played down any concerns insisting that he was still doing some routine indoor recovery work.
The semi-final – Morocco or Portugal
The semi-final would likely be an easier test for England, should they make it that far for a third major tournament in a row.
England would come up against either Morocco or Portugal, with kick-off at 7pm on Wednesday, December 14.
The fans will undoubtedly be rooting for Morocco in their last-16 clash against Portugal, which will end shortly before England take on France on Saturday.
But Morocco have proven to be a supremely tough side to break down throughout the tournament. None of Spain, Belgium or Croatia have managed to score against them at the World Cup. In fact, the one and only goal they have conceded was an own goal against Canada.
Morocco beat Spain to reach the quarter-finals and would be a tough opponent in the semi-final
England could also come up against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the last-four, though it’s not certain he would be involved
Morocco would become the first team from Africa ever to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup should they beat Portugal on Saturday, and they would certainly be no pushovers in the semi-final.
A game against Portugal would put Cristiano Ronaldo in the spotlight once again, meanwhile. He’s in the news for different reasons these days, but the wink of 2006 won’t be forgotten.
Having been dropped to the bench against Switzerland, it’s not even guaranteed he would be involved, though.
The final – Brazil or Argentina?
England were left heartbroken as they lost to Italy in the final of the European Championships last summer, and they would face another mammoth task should they make it that far.
Brazil and Argentina were arguably the two favourites going into the competition, and they have found themselves on the same side of the draw after both winning their groups.
With Lionel Messi in their side, particularly in the form he’s in, Argentina are a force to be reckoned with. They face Holland on Friday evening as they bid to reach the semi-finals.
England could find themselves up against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the World Cup final
Brazil were phenomenal against South Korea in the last-16 and look a formidable side so far
There, they could meet great rivals Brazil, who were utterly ruthless as they demolished South Korea to reach the last eight. Tite’s side were 4-0 up at half-time, before taking their foot off the gas and eventually winning 4-1.
Brazil will have to beat Croatia in the quarter-finals to set up a clash against Argentina – and on current form, it’s difficult to see any other outcome.
The final will take place on Sunday, December 18 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.
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