France vs England 3-2?

Two European powerhouses do battle for a place in the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as England and France go head to head at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday.

The 2018 champions got their title defence underway in style as they secured back-to-back victories over Australia and Denmark in their opening two matches in Group D.

However, with a place in the knockout stages already secured, Didier Deschamps’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat against Tunisia in their group finale on November 30, courtesy of a 58th-minute effort from Wahbi Khazri.

France avoided an upset in their round-of-16 clash against Poland four days later as a first-half strike from Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe’s second-half brace condemned Czeslaw Michniewicz’s men to a 3-1 defeat at the Al Thumama Stadium.

As for England, they made light work of Senegal in their round-of-16 clash on December 4, when Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Busayo Saka all found the back of the net to send the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions packing.

This followed a solid group-stage campaign, where the Three Lions finished unbeaten in Group B, claiming two wins and one draw to collect seven points and secure top spot in the group standings ahead of USA, Iran and Wales.

However, next up for Gareth Southgate’s side is their biggest test yet as Saturday’s game pits them against a France side who are unbeaten in seven of the last eight meetings between the nations, claiming five wins and two draws since 1999.

Les Bleus’ only defeat in that time came in a friendly fixture at Wembley in November 2015, when Dele Alli and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney netted either side of the half-time break to hand the Three Lions a comfortable victory.

England, however, will fancy their chances of getting the job done on Saturday as they boast a significantly superior record in the history of this fixture, picking up five draws and 17 wins from their 31 games against France, including a 4-1 victory in their first-ever clash back in May 1923.

In that encounter, Jackie Hegan, Charlie Buchan, Jackie Hegan and Norman Creek all found the back of the net to hand Southgate’s side an emphatic win and sparked a run of six consecutive victories against the two-time world champions before a 5-2 loss at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir exactly eight years later.

England will also take courage in the fact that they have also enjoyed a perfect World Cup record against France, claiming a 2-0 victory in 1966 before winning 3-1 in the 1982 edition, thanks to a brace from Bryan Robson and Paul Mariner’s 83rd-minute strike.

While Southgate will be looking to become the first English manager to guide the nation to two World Cup semi-finals, he must guide the Three Lions to their first competitive win over Les Bleus since their 1982 World Cup triumph.

Since that victory, France and England have battled in the European Championship on three different occasions, with the 2018 World Cup champions claiming two draws and a narrow 2-1 victory in the Euro 2004 opener.

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