Al Bayt Stadium, 12:30 PM (Sunday)
Average age: England: 25.9; France: 26.6
Of average height: England: 5’9”; France: 6′
Probably from 11:
Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Foden
Lloris, Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, (Theo) Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud
Defining Area: Combat in Midfield
England will try to take control of the game from the very start, as they have done throughout this tournament. They try to gain control through a high defense block.
France built up its attacks by forming a 4-3-3 structure, with Tchouameni falling behind Griezmann and Rabiot as a single pivot. The Juventus midfielder is unlikely to be the solution for the English press, so Griezmann will be dragged deeper. Taking Griezmann further off target is only good news for England.
However, England are pressing into their natural 4-3-3 form. However, the wingers start in much narrower positions while the midfielders push up high. They will appear to remain compact as their defense structure shifts from side to side. England’s wingers try to close the passing lane to the full-backs as they move up to the centre-backs alongside Harry Kane. This creates a much more aggressive high pressure, which can overwhelm the most experienced defenders.Key fight: Walker against Mbappé
Of course, if you think you have to stop France, the focus will be on stopping Kylian Mbappé. Stopping him will be key to England’s hopes of reaching consecutive semi-finals at a World Cup. France are undefeated in Mbappé’s 13 starts at major tournaments – winning all nine at the World Cup – and he has been directly involved in 12 goals in those matches.
Walker has already faced the fast pace of Ismaila Sarr of Senegal and Dan James of Wales, but neither can prepare him for Mbappé.
However, Kyle, perhaps not as fast as he was a few years ago, is fast and one of the best in the world for defensive recovery runs. He will need to defend well in one-on-one situations and will likely depend on the support of teammates like Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice or John Stones to stop Mbappé.