In a thrilling World Cup quarterfinal match on Saturday, England manager Gareth Southgate has challenged the Three Lions to take the game to the reigning champions France.
With 12 goals in their first four games in Qatar, Southgate’s team is tied for the tournament lead in scoring, but they will face Kylian Mbappe’s offensive prowess.
There have been rumors that Southgate may alter his defensive lineup to deal with France’s front four of Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele due to the threat of the Paris Saint-Germain forward.
But Southgate has made it seem like he wants to make France focus more on how to stop England’s plethora of talented attackers.
“There is no point going into a game like this and just covering up and sitting on the ropes. We believe we can cause problems with the ball and we intend to do that,” Southgate told ITV.
Four years ago, England made it to the semifinals as France won their second World Cup in Russia.
At Euro 2020, the Three Lions advanced to their first major tournament final in 55 years before falling to Italy at Wembley on penalties.
However, Southgate is optimistic that those encounters would aid his team in ending the wait for a significant title that dates back to the 1966 World Cup.
“We’ve beaten some big teams. We know we have the experience of high pressure nights behind us and as a team we’ve been resilient through a lot of situations, but they all prepare you for nights like this,” added Southgate.
“We got to the first final for 55 years. We’ve won a semifinal and been to a semifinal of the World Cup before.
“But, of course, it is a big game against a high quality opponent. Everything that has happened in the past is history, it all comes down to Saturday night.”
The world champions have also played well when Didier Deschamps has selected his strongest lineup, as evidenced by their 1-0 loss to Tunisia in their last group encounter.
Giroud has overtaken Mbappe as his country’s all-time leading scorer in Qatar, although Mbappe currently leads the race for the Golden Boot with five goals.
“We’ve got to recognise that four years ago if we had played France we could have talked a good game but we genuinely didn’t have the evidence of big performances, experiences of big nights that could really give us the faith that we could win,” said Southgate.
“Now we’ve had a lot of those nights and we’ve a lot of those attributes. We know, of course at this stage they will be very evenly matched games, but we know we have the quality to win the game.”
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