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FIFA World Cup 2022 Quarterfinal Preview: England vs. France — December 10, 2022

Doha, Qatar; France forward Antoine Griezmann (7) kicks the ball against Poland defender Przemyslaw Frankowski (24) during the second half of a round of sixteen match in the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Al Thumama Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

England and France face off for a spot in the World Cup semifinals on Saturday night in what has the potential to be the tie of the round.

Both sides have had excellent campaigns, France’s defeat to Tunisia and England’s disappointing draw with the USA aside. England are the joint-highest scorers in the competition so far with 12 goals, while defending-champions France have exhibited their desire to retain their title with impressive wins over Australia, Denmark and Poland.

England Key Player: Jude Bellingham

The 19-year-old has had an incredible tournament, demonstrating why he’s considered a generational talent on the biggest of stages. His assist for Jordan Henderson’s goal in the Last 16 began with a positive run that carved through the Senegal defense, igniting a pedestrian England and inspiring their dominance for the rest of the match.

Through the tournament, he's earned an 87.6 shooting grade, 82.4 passing grade and a 92.0 challenge grade, showing how many different areas of England’s game he can contribute to.

France Key Player: Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence this season after a difficult couple of years at Barcelona, and he’s continued — if not improved — that form during the World Cup.

He’s a constant threat sitting behind the striker and can play in either winger or overlapping full-back before joining the attack himself. He has earned an 88.8 passing grade and an 82.1 crossing grade so far, so it should be no surprise if he starts to cause England problems from the off.

Matchup to watch: Kylian Mbappé vs. England’s right-back

Questions continue to revolve around how England plans to stifle Mbappé. The PSG striker has put up an 81.0 shooting grade during the World Cup, the third-highest for a player at his position.

The nod looks like it could go to Kyle Walker, whose pace and experience are probably best-suited for the challenge. However, Walker did earn a below-average 68.3 grade defending dribbles in his Premier League season, which was cut short by injury.

The alternatives are Kieran Trippier (73.0) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (62.9), who have also struggled to defend dribbles.

Still, England could easily switch to a back five, a formation they used a lot before turning to a 4-3-3 at the start of this tournament. This would probably consist of Trippier on the right and Walker at right center-back, offering a double layer of protection against France’s star man.

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