How the Three Lions can overthrow the world champions

England’s Bukayo Saka, right, celebrates with his England teammate Harry Kane, centre, and England’s Phil Foden after scoring his side’s third goal during the round of 16 soccer match between England and Senegal , – Manu Fernandez/AP

It’s Coming Home or Allez Les Blues will play around Al Bayt Stadium, as England look to end France’s trophy defense in their quarter-final clash.

The most discussed challenge is between Kyle Walker and Kylian Mbappe, top scorer in the World Cup with five goals.

But Jude Bellingham against Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield, and Harry Kane against Spurs teammate Hugo Lloris, could also be deciding factors in this game.

This is their first meeting in the tournament for 40 years and it’s a mouthwatering fixture between two attacking sides with one-on-one battles expected across the pitch.

If England are to win, they will need to perform in these areas.

Unleash Bellingham on the French midfield

France’s forward line has been plagued by injuries, with early reports of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and also Christopher Nkunku missing. But losing the engine room of the team that won the World Cup four years ago could be just as damaging.

N’Golo Kante is a player for big occasions and has the ability to manage a match, as he did in the Champions League final in 2021. Paul Pogba also missed the tournament and while France have huge talent in Aurélien Tchouaméni, there is an opportunity for Jude Bellingham to continue his fearless performances so far in Qatar.

His box-to-box performances were aided by Declan Rice who was disciplined as a support midfielder and the presence of Jordan Henderson, who struck up a friendship with Bellingham off the pitch and has a partnership with him in the same squad.

England's Jude Bellingham runs under pressure from Senegal's Boulaye Dia during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match between England and Senegal - Five ways England can beat France - Alex Livesey/Getty Images

England’s Jude Bellingham runs under pressure from Senegal’s Boulaye Dia during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match between England and Senegal – Five ways England can beat France – Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Set pieces

French newspaper L’Équipe has reported that set-pieces are a particular concern for Didier Deschamps and focused on them during training at Al Sadd SC this week. Harry Maguire was highlighted as the main threat, his presence from corners and free kicks a problem for the opposition from the first match against Iran when he should have won a holding penalty.

England have excellent delivery, with a number of players able to put the ball into the penalty area with speed. And they’ve also reverted to the “Love Train” routine where players line up at the edge of the crease just before a dead ball is bowled, then scatter to confuse their markers.

“They are very tall and have some players who take free-kicks well,” said France captain Hugo Lloris. “Every little detail will count in this match, so set pieces will be important. This is one of the aspects in which we will have to be strong”.

Kyle Walker one-on-one with Kylian Mbappe… with help

It will be important for Kyle Walker to have an early duel with Kylian Mbappe and show the France forward that it will be a fair race between the two. Mbappe’s most dangerous game is starting from the left wing and entering. He dropped Walker’s name in an interview about the defenders who have most upset him, and the Manchester City full-back has the speed to keep up. He will need some help though.

England struggled against the United States when Luke Shaw was exposed on the other wing and will need Walker to get Bukayo Saka to assist when England lose the ball. Jordan Henderson will also be important in midfield, drifting in to help his full-back and organizing the two lines of players Mbappe will have to break through to reach Jordan Pickford’s goal.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City's Kyle Walker (left) during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Etihad Stadium - Five ways England can beat the France - John Berry/Getty Images

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City’s Kyle Walker (left) during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Etihad Stadium – Five ways England can beat the France – John Berry/Getty Images

Put pressure on Lloris

In preparing Al-Bayt, one of the questions was whether Lloris was the weak link in the French team. He may have lifted the World Cup four years ago but he still has a reputation for making a mistake no matter how good his form is for Tottenham.

Just before the World Cup he was guilty of a high profile blunder in the North London Derby when he dropped the ball and allowed Gabriel Jesus to intercept.

“I will speak on the pitch”, was Lloris’s emphatic response on the eve of this match. He was also asked about the difference in refereeing in the Premier League, perhaps hinting to the Frenchman that he expects a physical battle when the ball swings into the penalty area. “There are more physical challenges in the English league,” said Lloris. “We just have to adapt to different contexts.”

    France's Hugo Lloris saves a penalty from Poland's Robert Lewandowski before it was restarted due to the goalkeeper leaving his goal line during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match between France and Poland - - Playmaker/ Getty Images

France’s Hugo Lloris saves a penalty from Poland’s Robert Lewandowski before it was restarted due to the goalkeeper leaving his goal line during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match between France and Poland – – Playmaker/ Getty Images

Counterattack from the flanks

England overcame Senegal in the last round thanks to two classic counter-attacks, with the ball going from one end of the pitch to the other in seconds. It helps to have flying wingers looking to outrun Harry Kane as the England captain moves into the role of number 10.

Whether it’s Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling or Jack Grealish, it’s an area for England to exploit, especially as the full-back has been an uncertain area for the French.

Benjamin Pavard was on the bench for the round of 16 win against Poland, with professional centre-back Jules Koundé at right-back.

On the other hand, Lucas Hernandez was ruled out of the World Cup with a serious knee injury in the opening win against Australia. His brother played for him.

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