France are “going to smash England” in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals, Patrice Evra has boldly claimed, with Kylian Mbappe expected to run riot.
WHAT HAPPENED? Les Bleus have made impressive progress in defence of a global crown that they claimed four years ago in Russia, with Didier Deschamps looking for his side to go back-to-back. England will provide the sternest of tests for France, as the leading scorers at Qatar 2022, but Evra is convinced that the holders have enough – particularly in attack – to fire their way into the last four.
WHAT THEY SAID: Former Manchester United defender Evra, who earned 81 caps for France in his playing days – has told Betfair: “I feel confident, but not arrogant. I'm happy with what France are doing right now, but I'm also happy with what England are doing right now. I think it's going to be an interesting game, but while I think England will have to worry about players like Kylian Mbappe, France also have to worry about players like [Bukayo] Saka and [Phil] Foden. France have got worries about the England team. You can tell me that Kyle Walker is going to block Mbappe, he did it against Neymar very well in the Champions League, but I know Mbappe will move into the centre and he will come up against John Stones and Harry Maguire, and it will be difficult for them to stop him. It's a big mix, I feel like France are going to smash England, but England can also beat France, so I'm going into the game confident but I could also be surprised.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Mbappe has been starring for France, registering a Golden Boot race-leading five goals so far, and Evra added on the threat that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar will pose to England: “How do you stop him? I don't have the answer, when he plays down the side he is unstoppable. To stop him, he needs to have a bad day. Kyle Walker can be confident and say he's got him, he's fast, he's strong, but Mbappe will find a way to escape. I hope he moves into the centre, because no disrespect to them, but the two centre-backs for England won't be able to deal with him. When he plays in the central position, he still has to learn, he doesn't like it when he receives the ball and the defender is on his back. He doesn't use his body properly, he's not got that yet. To stop him when he's in the centre, you have to be close to him every time, you have to frustrate him, foul him, he doesn't like to be fouled, but it's going to be difficult to stop him.”
WHAT NEXT? England and France are due to lock horns on Saturday, with their eagerly-anticipated encounter set to take place at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
By Chris Burton
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