England ready for 'fantastic challenge' of facing France in World Cup quarter-finals

Three Lions booked their place in the last eight with a 3-0 win over Senegal on Sunday night

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England captain Harry Kane said his team are ready for a "tough evening" when they face France in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

England booked their place in the last eight in Qatar with a 3-0 win over Senegal on Sunday night, overcoming a nervous start before goals from Jordan Henderson, Kane, and Bukayo Saka led to a comfortable victory.

Next up for Gareth Southgate's side is a showdown with a France side looking to become the first team to win successive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.

"Saturday will be a really tough evening," said Kane, whose goal against Senegal was his first of the tournament and moved him within one of Wayne Rooney's England record of 53. "France are a great team.

"They are the reigning champions. If you want to win the World Cup you have to play the best sides in the world and France are definitely one of them."

Southgate agreed with his captain and believes England will face the "biggest test" of their title credentials.

Les Bleus may have been depleted by injuries before and during the tournament - with Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema and midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante among the notable absentees - but in Kylian Mbappe, they possess one of the most dangerous forwards in world football.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Mbappe took his tally to five goals and two assists from four games on Sunday with a brace in the 3-1 win over Poland on Sunday.

"It is the biggest test we could face. They are world champions, with an incredible depth of talent and outstanding players. They are very hard to play against and score goals against," Southgate said.

England v Senegal player ratings

"It's a fantastic challenge. It's a historic rivalry with great games from the past. It's a brilliant game for us to be involved in and test ourselves against the very best.

"Mbappe is of course a world-class player. He has already delivered big moments in this tournament and in previous tournaments," Southgate added.

"Griezmann is also a phenomenal player, we know [Olivier] Giroud so well and they have outstanding midfield players as well. It is a huge test but one we are really looking forward to."

Although England have good reason to fear France, Southgate can counter by pointing out his team are rounding into form as they enter the business end of the tournament.

Kylian Mbappe will be France's chief threat against England, while Olivier Giroud has also been in fine form. AFP

England have already scored 12 goals in four matches at this year's World Cup, the country's joint-most at a single major tournament.

The key to England's victory against Senegal was Jude Bellingham, who became the first teenager to register an assist in a World Cup knockout match since 1966 when he laid on Henderson's opener.

The 19-year-old midfielder was also involved in Kane's goal and proved the catalyst for all of England's best moments as they turned the tide following Senegal's bright start.

Saluting Bellingham's development just two years after he was playing in the English second tier with Birmingham, Southgate said: "I think the biggest thing is the mentality.

Jude Bellingham produced another superb display for England against Senegal. PA

"We've done a lot of work with young players over the years but the thing that makes the difference, is the mindset, the drive, the desire to learn. He has all of that. I don't think we could predict how quickly he would mature. That's gone to another level in the last three months.

"We've wanted to invest in young players on the basis they could be something special. You suffer a bit with that at first because they are not going to be perfect when they come in. Further down the line you get these types of performances."

Watching Tottenham striker Kane score his first goal of the tournament was another boost for Southgate.

"You could see the lift that gave Harry. His link play started to come together again," he said.

"For any striker when you haven't scored it's in the back of your mind and when you get that goal it is a great lift of confidence. That will do him the world of good."

Updated: December 05, 2022, 5:32 AM