England know they have a huge mountain to climb
Gareth Southgate has admitted France pose the biggest test England could possibly face at the World Cup after his side set up a quarter-final clash with the world champions on Saturday. England beat Senegal 3-0 in the last 16 on Sunday to reach the last eight for the second successive World Cup, with Didier Deschamps’ side standing in the way of a semi-final berth after they saw off Poland 3-1 earlier in the day.
Southgate’s side have only beaten France once in seven meetings since the turn of the century, while the manager lost his only encounter with Les Bleus – a 3-2 defeat in June 2017. Deschamps’ side lifted the trophy in Russia in 2018 and ahead of the meeting at the Al Bayt Stadium, Southgate said: “In terms of France, it’s the biggest test we could face.
“They’re world champions with an incredible depth of talent and outstanding individual players. They’re very difficult to play against and score goals against, so it’s a fantastic challenge and a brilliant game to prepare for.”
England’s game with France is the second quarter-final to be confirmed after Argentina set up a contest with the Netherlands on Friday, and Southgate said: “The two quarter-finals that are already in place are historic rivalries. “It’s a great game to be involved with and to test ourselves against the very best.”