England may name an unchanged starting eleven to face France from the side that put three past Senegal in the World Cup last 16, it has been claimed. News of how the Three Lions may line up in their quarter-final on Saturday night (7pm) has emerged with Gareth Southgate considering selecting the same XI, instead of switching to a back five.
England go up against France in the knockouts of a major tournament for the first time. The reigning world champions have Golden Boot leader Kylian Mbappe, who has five strikes in Qatar, among their ranks.
And the Daily Mirror report that despite the threat of Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud – who has three goals himself in the Middle East – England are poised to stick with a back four rather than give themselves an extra defender with a back five.
The current set-up has served Southgate’s side well – and that is what they think is best to deal with the threat of Mbappe and co. They are one of just four teams unbeaten in Qatar and have kept three clean sheets in their last four while scoring 12 goals.
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And it is said there is a belief England will keep the faith with the same team that played against Senegal. That is partly thanks to the six-day break between the two matches which should keep the players fresh despite the hot and humid conditions.
Harry Maguire and John Stones have started all four games of the tournament so far together at centre-half, with Kyle Walker the starting right-back in both of the last two matches after recovering from injury. He will go head-to-head with Mbappe directly. Luke Shaw has also been an ever-present at left-back, completing the full 90 minutes three times.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the leader for the World Cup’s Golden Glove with the trio of Netherlands’ Andries Noppert, Brazil’s Alisson and Morocco’s Yassine Bounou all one behind. Whatever defence is in front of him, he will most definitely start in goal.
In midfield, Declan Rice has been undroppable and will keep his spot. He missed training on Wednesday with illness but the West Ham leader is expected to be fine to play at the weekend.
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Jordan Henderson may again be deployed next to him against France. The Liverpool captain has started both of the last two matches against Wales and Senegal, both 3-0 victories, and scored in the latter game.
Jude Bellingham has been one of England’s stand-out performers from the tournament and if Southgate names an unchanged side, will again start in a slightly more advanced midfield position. The three-goal Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden, who netted against Wales, are likely to start out wide again.
That would mean Marcus Rashford, despite his brace in the same match against Wales, again having to settle for a place on the bench. Captain Harry Kane will lead the line after breaking his duck in Doha last time out as he plots a late surge for a second successive World Cup Golden Boot.
That would leave the Three Lions with Rashford, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount among the potential game-changing substitutes. It remains unclear if Raheem Sterling, who returned home after a burglary at his Surrey mansion, will be back in time to make the squad against Les Bleus.
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