England’s showpiece showdown against France today would be a fitting World Cup final, though one of the tournament favourites will see their dreams dashed and adventure ended at the quarter-final stage at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Both the Three Lions and Les Bleus have enjoyed kind runs against some of the competition’s lesser lights to this juncture, though the nations’ collision in Al Khor this evening is the very definition of a heavyweight contest.
Below, I’ve laid out an array of stats from the teams’ World Cup campaigns so far. Hopefully, the data will enable you to tackle the bet builder markets with more confidence today. As always, refer to my Stats Pack Guide if you need assistance.
Gareth Southgate is believed to be weighing up his tactical options ahead of this evening’s quarter-final but is believed to be announcing an unchanged lineup, although some observers anticipate a return to a three-at-the-back system for England.
In that scenario, Eric Dier could slot in alongside Harry Maguire and John Stones at centre-half with Jordan Henderson losing his spot. Further forward, Phil Foden is favourite to keep his place in an attacking trident with Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane. Raheem Sterling has returned to Qatar following a short stint at home for family reasons, though the winger is unlikely to start against France.
A media frenzy was whipped up earlier in the week when Kylian Mbappe sat out a French training session, though that measure was precautionary and he was back on the grass in no time at all.
Head Coach Didier Deschamps isn’t expected to spring any surprises against England today and the same Les Bleus XI that beat Poland 3-1 in the Round of 16 could be fielded again this evening.
England’s underlying World Cup stats have a dominant look and the Three Lions have comfortably outperformed all of their opponents so far in terms of raw numbers.
Their goals and xG against tallies make for particularly impressive reading, while England have been getting almost half of their shots on target, which points to a formidable ruthlessness in the final third.
England remain the only team in the competition yet to pick up a card, though that unblemished disciplinary record could be marred today.
The Three Lions sleepwalked through the first 30 minutes of their Round of 16 tussle with Senegal, however, which is something the numbers don’t highlight. They probably would have been punished by a higher-class outfit and Southgate will want sharper minds from the outset this evening.
The tale of the tape shows that France have conceded twice as many goals as England in Qatar, though the rivals’ xG, shot and shots against tallies have been quite similar across the board.
Les Bleus have also scored fewer times than England, though their attacking metrics have been notably stronger in every measurable department, with their much-higher xG (2.31 to 1.69) the standout.
France have kept their noses clean from a card-collecting standpoint, though they have been drawing more bookings from opponents than their English counterparts.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Marcus Rashford is the table leader for both shots and shots on target per 90 for England in Qatar, though the Manchester United forward has started only once and should be kept in reserve again this evening.
Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden look like better choices in the shot market today as England’s first-choice attackers, though the latter two bring the best value to the table from wider positions.
Foden and Saka are available at 5/6 and 10/11 with Betfair respectively to lodge at least one shot on target today – a feat both have managed inside their last two World Cup starts.
Kylian Mbappe has been in irresistible form for France at the World Cup and the 23-year-old ranks first at the tournament for total attempts mustered (21) and joint-first with clubmate Lionel Messi for shots on target hit (ten each).
Mbappe was accurate with three attempts against Poland in the Round of 16 and four in his previous appearance against Denmark before that, and the PSG superstar is available at a very backable 13/10 (Betfair) to have at least two shots on target against England.
Beyond Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann have decent overall shots per 90 figures, though their accuracy has been pretty average. Adrien Rabiot meanwhile, has managed to unleash at least one shot in all but one of his four appearances and he could be a good coupon-filling option as tastier odds today.
Player Goals and Assists
Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka are England’s joint-leading marksmen in Qatar, though Harry Kane finally joined the party when he scored the Three Lions’ second goal against Senegal in the Round of 16.
Kane (three assists) has been happy to play a facilitating role for the most part and it’s interesting to note that Saka has had twice as many shots on target as Kane at the World Cup.
Jude Bellingham showcased his inventive qualities with an assist against Senegal and he and left-back Luke Shaw top the pile for shot-creating-actions (12 each).
With five goals in four appearances under his belt, Kylian Mbappe is the World Cup’s current top scorer and favourite to land the Golden Boot. The 23-year-old landed two sumptuous strikes against Poland in the Round of 16 and he will be marked out as Les Blues’ biggest dangerman this evening.
The often-underrated Olivier Giroud is now his country’s joint-leading scorer of all time thanks to his flurry of goals in Qatar. Antoine Griezmann and that man Mbappe again, have been France’s most-creative duo, posting an eye-watering 56 shot-creating-actions between them (Mbappe 34, Griezmann 22).
Mbappe or Griezmann at 6/5 and 7/5 (Betfair) respectively to either score or assist against England are both superb prices.
Kyle Walker (1.88) will be tasked with the most difficult of jobs today when he lines up against Kylian Mbappe. The right-back committed two fouls against Senegal in the Round of 16, though his tally of indiscretions could sky-rocket today against the dynamic French forward.
On the opposite flank, regular foul-merchant Luke Shaw (1.35) could be drawn into action as he combats the pace and trickery of Ousmane Dembele, while the slow-moving Harry Maguire is likely to be targeted as part of the French gameplan this evening.
If any flying Frenchman breaks beyond Maguire (1.32), the centre-half will happily take a card to snuff out the danger.
Kylian Mbappe (1.52) and Ousmane Dembele (1.15) wield the right combination of speed and silk to expose the Three Lions down the flanks and both attackers could be bumped by their English markers at times this evening (Walker and Shaw). A very attack-minded Theo Hernandez (2.07) will add to Walker’s woes.
The wingers’ arcing runs towards the inside could also cause Harry Maguire to hit the panic button when England’s backline becomes stretched and there is more card-drawing potential in those matchups.
Match-Ups to watch
Kyle Walker vs Kylian Mbappe
Luke Shaw vs Ousmane Dembele
Harry Maguire vs Kylian Mbappe/Ousmane Dembele
Aurelien Tchouameni adds steel to the base of the French midfield, though as with any anchorman of his ilk, the Real Madrid starlet usually commits his fair share of fouls. The 22-year-old could earn his second booking of the tournament today, while the more awkward Dayot Upamecano seems likelier to be collared than his experienced counterweight, Raphael Varane.
Upamecano gave away three fouls when marking Robert Lewandowski against Poland in the Round of 16 and the 24-year-old faces a striker of similar stature in the shape of Harry Kane today.
Jules Kounde (one card) won’t get much help in defensive phases from Ousmane Dembele and he could be overworked when Foden and Shaw work in tandem down his side.
Jude Bellingham (1.39) is England’s driving force from midfield and his ability to grab games by the scruff of the neck should ensure he has France’s Tchouameni for close company this evening.
Harry Kane (2.29) has been his country’s most-fouled player in Qatar per 90 minutes and the Spurs talisman has the nous to entice Upamecano into a punishable tackle or two.
Luke Shaw (1.08) is a forward-thinking full-back who should get into positions high enough to test France’s Kounde. There might be enough sparks produced by that head-to-head to get the officials involved.
Match-Ups to watch
Aurelien Tchouameni vs Jude Bellingham
Dayot Upamecano vs Harry Kane
Jules Kounde vs Luke Shaw
Both England (65%) and France (58%) have been dominating possession at the World Cup and while something has to give this evening, we expect the same individual protagonists to dominate the passing metrics today.
England’s defenders tend to see a lot of the ball, though John Stones is the only member of the 100 passes per 90 club. Stones and Harry Maguire should beat the 70 pass celling again today, though Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw are better options in terms of value in the same arena.
Both full-backs racked up over 70 passes against Senegal and they can be backed to repeat the trick at 11/10 (Shaw) and 11/8 (Walker) this evening. Stones and Maguire are a much-skinnier 2/9 and 2/5 in the same realm (Betfair).
Aurelien Tchouameni has been France’s chief ball-recycler in midfield and the 22-year-old has clipped at least 70 passes in three out of four World Cup appearances. His consistent output makes him a nicely-priced option at 10/11 (Betfair) to play over 70 passes again against England.
Don’t be fooled by Dayot Upamecano’s lofty distribution figures. The centre-half played 120 passes in France’s easy victory over Australia in the group phase, though he finished with much-lower 57 and 58 pass-hauls in his subsequent appearances against Denmark and Poland.