England can beat France with their versatility and depth.

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By Creative Media News

There has been much speculation about how England can neutralize the threat of Kylian Mbappé in their quarterfinal World Cup match against France on Saturday, but the most crucial thing for them to consider is how to assert themselves against France.

Gareth Southgate’s squad defeated Senegal with confidence and concentration. In four matches in Qatar, they have scored 12 goals, demonstrating their attacking skill and clinical nature. France has demonstrated defensive fragility and is without their starting fullbacks.

Jules Koundé, a central defender, has been moved to the right side of the defense owing to a lack of options, while Lucas Hernandez, the left-back, has been ruled out after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in their opening encounter. Hugo Lloris and Raphael Varane, meanwhile, are very seasoned but at times vulnerable.

England can beat france with their versatility and depth.
England can beat france with their versatility and depth.

England’s flowing forward play against Senegal was a result of their starting front three of Bukaya Saka, Harry Kane, and Phil Foden. It would be difficult to overhaul a winning team, especially since they possess the qualities to expose France’s full-backs, as they all contributed to a fast-paced attack that helped open up Senegal.

I do not believe Southgate will make any changes, but possibly Marcus Rashford will replace Foden to do to Walker what Mpabbé would do to Walker and keep them pushed back. After Foden’s recent performances, it would be difficult not to play him, but it may depend on what this knockout game requires.

The key is to avoid making it a counterattacking match. England will require some degree of control, but the situation will be extremely end-to-end. It is essential to acknowledge France’s strengths without being intimidated by them.

In my time, it was ingrained in our heads that we should dread world-class players and teams, but I do not believe this group has that fear element. They have a balanced understanding of both the threats and their strengths as individuals and as a team.

Southgate’s trusted assistant, Steve Holland, stated in the buildup that teams do engage in a game of “cat and mouse” when attempting to keep Mbappé quiet. If England focuses excessively on the forward and alters their tactics to stop him, it could detract from their offensive performance. It is a challenging balancing act that they must master.

Defensively, it will be crucial for the center midfielders to swiftly assist the fullbacks. When France attacks, a midfielder may drop into a five-man defense to guarantee that the full-backs are never alone in a one-on-one position. It may be necessary for Declan Rice or Jordan Henderson to assist Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw in protecting the flanks very well.

I believe there will be a combative midfield, and Southgate will not make personnel changes to safeguard the central areas. Harry Maguire can handle Olivier Giroud in the air, as this is his area of expertise. Only two goals have been conceded by England in this tournament, indicating a well-organized defense.

A team can maintain its shape while adjusting it throughout the course of a game. England would lose a midfielder if Southgate opts for a five-man defense by starting an additional centre-back.

England must have more confidence in itself. Rice, for instance, can drop into a back five when France has the ball, and England can revert to a midfield three when they have the ball, allowing them to press higher and exert the necessary control.

Individuals are not confined to a single position for the duration of a game, and formations can change throughout the course of a match; they can adjust based on the scenario.

Players are now schooled differently to understand their varied duties inside a match. The great thing about Southgate is that he expects them to be able to make quick substitutions during the game.

If it is not working, he can drop a player into a defensive five and sit Henderson and Jude Bellingham deeper to get to half-time, for example, before changing it.

England’s bench is their greatest asset. If the game is scoreless after 70 minutes, I would have more faith in England’s ability to make adjustments. A manager must always be able to turn to his substitutes to determine what is needed and whether he has somebody who can deliver it.

Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson, and Raheem Sterling, should he participate, offer England players for nearly every situation. The beautiful thing is that they are predominantly offensive, and scoring goals is the most difficult task. When a magical moment is necessary for knockout football, the England bench is well-equipped.

At this stage of a competition, experience is crucial. It is essential to have members of your team who have been through this before. They understand what is required in the elimination rounds and how to execute a strategy.

Southgate selected the most experienced group of players available to him in part because many members of this England team have reached the World Cup semifinals and won the European Championship. On Saturday, they will not be intimidated by the occasion and will guarantee England does not start on the back foot.

This game excites me greatly, and I am not anxious. My Englishness generally causes me to mistrust the squad, but I was especially nervous coming into the Senegal game because it had all the ingredients for an upset: Senegal was missing its greatest players, and England was the favorite.

Faced with France, I feel a sense of inner serenity; England knows what they’re doing, as I witnessed against Senegal. If things do not proceed as planned, it is because they were defeated by a superior squad. I am at ease, but I hope that it will not come back to bite me.

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