Gareth Southgate has warned his players they cannot afford to focus solely on Kylian Mbappe after booking a World Cup quarter-final against the holders of the competition on Saturday.
The England manager described the French striker as “world-class” but said they must be equally wary of the threat posed by Antoine Griezmann and former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who has become top scorer of his country during the tournament.
“He [Mbappe] he is obviously a world-class player who has already delivered great moments in this tournament and in previous tournaments, but Griezmann now has more than 70 games in a row for France and he is also a phenomenal player” said Southgate after the 3-0 victory his team’s last match 16 win against Senegal.
“We know Olivier Giroud very well and they also have outstanding young midfielders, so wherever you look when you study France, they have incredible depth in every position, so it’s a huge test but we’re looking forward to it and now it’s a big challenge for our team. team.”
“Bellingham has it all”
Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka scored at the Al-Bayt Stadium against the African Cup of Nations champions, but Jude Bellingham’s performance propelled England forward from midfield.
“I don’t want to hype him too much because he’s still young but he’s one of the most gifted players I’ve ever seen,” said teammate Phil Foden. “I don’t see any weaknesses in his game. I think he has everything. I’m sure he will become the best midfielder in the world.”
Kane added, “It’s right up there. He’s a fantastic player. He has quality on and off the ball. He presses very well, goes around the field, tackles. With the ball he can run, catch players and make a through ball. He was really important to our goals.
“He has a great personality, is mature for his age with great leadership skills. I would say keep working, keep learning, he has many years ahead of him. I’m sure he will continue to improve. It’s great for us to have him with us with the England squad.”
French reaction: England clash ‘explosive and tempting’
French sports newspaper L’Equipe said England “relied on their experience and efficiency to win easily against Senegal” and staged a clash with the world champions.
The front page of L’Equipe, however, was reserved for one of them, with Kylian Mbappe pictured celebrating his goal against Poland on Sunday alongside the headline: ‘God Save Our King’.
And they add: “Thanks to a bubbly Kylian Mbappé, author of two goals and a decisive pass, Les Bleus qualify for the quarter-finals, on Saturday, at 8pm, the world champions will face the English, easy winners over Senegal”.
Le Monde, meanwhile, described England’s performance as “solid” and said “the finalists from last year’s Euros will be a tough opponent for Kylian Mbappe and his team-mates.”
Le Figaro called the prospect of a quarter-final between France and England “explosive and tantalizing” and said neither side would lack confidence as “both have impressed” so far in Qatar.
The reaction of the experts: “Forward the French!”
After Saka scored the third goal after the break, ex-Arsenal and England defender Lee Dixon set his sights on next Saturday’s massive quarter-final match, proclaiming ‘bring the French’, as his ITV colleagues hailed Bellingham’s performance.
“Gareth Southgate is going to be really happy with that performance afterwards [tough] the first 30 minutes was a good hour for England, to say the least,” said Dixon. “Their management of the game was excellent in the second half.”
Ian Wright also praised Borussia Dortmund teenager Bellingham’s performance. The former Arsenal forward said on ITV: “It felt comfortable in the end because… when we had opportunities we broke and Jude Bellingham showed incredible quality and class and got us through.
“We took the opportunities when they came and that’s what we have to do because [Senegal] He had a couple of chances but didn’t take them.”
Roy Keane also chimed in to praise Bellingham, saying he “hadn’t seen a young midfielder perform like that for years – you normally see that from a world-class player who’s 26 or 27”.
He added, “Everything he does in the game … he has the maturity, the decision making, the final product, the final pass – the guy has it all.”
Keane hinted that Sunday’s fixture would not take too much away from England and that they could have their mouth watering for the quarter-finals.
“Physically and emotionally it hasn’t cost them much. Job done and they should be fully recovered for the weekend, which is a big match for them,” he said. “Credit goes to Gareth who gets a lot of them [selection] right decisions, despite all the criticisms it receives”.
Gary Lineker has praised the friendliness and quality of England’s youth team
Michael Owen, who scored 40 goals in 89 England appearances, said: “Another efficient performance from our boys. I loved the performances of Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson. Sign Kylian Mbappe and co.”
Reaction from the rest of Europe
Marca, Spain’s national sports daily, said England had “made it” to the quarter-finals, where “fearsome France awaits”.
They said “fears of an upset were rife in the first half” after Senegal’s impressive start, but England managed to turn the tide and progress thanks to “a professional performance”.
Germany’s Die Welt praised the “outstanding” Bellingham for guiding England to the quarter-finals but suggested that “a much more difficult task awaits” the Southgate side in the next round.
And the England manager himself admitted his side will need to improve to topple the world champions, telling ITV: ‘They are an outstanding team with a phenomenal tournament record and some outstanding individuals. find our highest possible level”.
How did the players react
Bellingham himself was keen to talk about fellow midfielder Henderson, who he believes deserves respect. The 19-year-old said: “It was a brilliant performance [by Henderson] today. I saw some of the nonsense being said about him playing. It’s ridiculous. He is so technically underrated and has again expressed himself in a great match with a huge goal. I think it’s about time he got some respect.”
The England players returned to their hotel in the early hours of Monday morning to receive a hero’s welcome from the local fans who have become a fixture since their arrival in Qatar. A large group of England-supporting migrant workers welcomed the Southgate squad on day one at the Souq Al Wakra Hotel, and there was another warm welcome when the team bus returned after the round of 16 the final.
Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Kyle Walker were all among those who celebrated with fans in the hotel reception, despite the clock ticking at around 3am after the match ended just before midnight.
Marcus Rashford, who replaced goalscorer Saka in the 65th minute, said: “Big win tonight and England’s 50th cap. The quarter-finals are here.”
Kyle Walker, who will presumably have the monumental task of containing Mbappé on Saturday, said: “Quarter-finals shortly. Increasingly strong they all played well. Incredible support tonight. England see you on Saturday.”
Talismanic England forward Kane is just one goal away from Wayne Rooney’s 53 for England after his goal.