Didier Deschamps, France’s head coach, warned on Friday that his team will need to be alert when they meet England in the World Cup quarterfinal because their opponents have players capable of harming them at set pieces and on the counter-attack.
Since their group stage Euro 2012 draw, the sides have not faced off in a major tournament, but the encounter between these two countries who have a long-standing sporting rivalry has received a lot of attention.
Deschamps, who has both won the World Cup as a player and coach with France, claimed that while the England team did not have many faults, they did have some “slightly less strong elements.”
“Pace is often one of the keys – when you are quick then the opponents have less time to get organised. But you need more than just pace to score goals,” Deschamps said ahead of Saturday’s game at Al Bayt Stadium.
“You can stop a lot of things but it is very difficult to stop someone very quick, especially in transitions.
“England are very strong in transitions – more than half of their goals have come from quick counter-attacks. But they have other qualities too – they have technical ability, the capacity to score goals and ability on set-pieces.”
The focus has been on how striker Kylian Mbappe, who has the most goals at the tournament with five, will do against the England defense. Kyle Walker has stated that he will draw on his prior experience facing him when they face off.
“I’m sure England will have prepared to face him but Kylian is in a position to make a difference,” Deschamps said.
“Even in his last match he wasn’t at his best, not in top form but still decisive (scoring twice in a 3-1 win against Poland). We have other players that can be dangerous as well.”
Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper for France’s national team, has spent the previous ten years playing for Tottenham Hotspur in England. The 35-year-old claimed he will teach his teammates from his experiences in the Premier League.
“Some of us play and train with the English players on a daily basis. If we can help our teammates with knowledge from playing with the clubs, we do,” Lloris said.
“They (England) are good on set pieces, they’re tall, they have players who can take good free kicks. We have to be very strong, but our attack has what it takes and can make it difficult for them.”
Despite France’s impressive performance in Russia four years ago, Lloris claimed that the English team has more tournament expertise than the defending champions.
“If we compare both sides, there were more English players here who were at the World Cup in Russia than France players,” Lloris added.
“England reached the semifinals at the last World Cup and were runners-up at the Euros, there’s been a real progression. This team is ready to compete for trophies. They were unlucky at the last Euros, they were close, but they’re here to win.
“In our side there are changes, there’s a new generation of players ready to compete playing in the best clubs in Europe. It’s a good mixture of experience and young players, we’re getting stronger step by step.”
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