Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Five Reasons To Favour The French

England play France in the World Cup quarter-final in Qatar on Saturday.

The world champions will be slight favourites, but if you’re nervy about their ability to slay St. Gareth and the Dragon, here are some reasons to favour the French.

Kylian Mbappe

It now seems almost a little far-fetched, but Kylian Mbappe actually came into this World Cup with a few doubts next to his name.

Not the kind of “is he any good?” doubts but question marks over whether or not he was up there with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as a true superstar who could yet shape this tournament to his own will.

Those doubts appeared to be answered on Saturday night with two stunning goals in France’s 3-1 victory over Poland which took Les Bleus into the quarter-finals.

England are justifiably confident they have some big weapons of their own to throw at the French.

But if you want one vision in your head to feel less anxious about it “coming home”, then think of this: Mbappe in full flight running in space at a back-pedalling Harry Maguire.

Olivier Giroud

Something else that’s hard to fathom:  when Olivier Giroud was at both Arsenal and Chelsea there were times when he was considered a bit of a lightweight, a figure of fun, almost.

But he has always been respected in France, even if he’s sometimes had to play second fiddle to Karim Benzema, who’s currently injured.

Giroud is a French goalscorer par excellence, as was confirmed by his opening goal against the Poles.

It elevated him to France’s all-time leading goalscorer after he took his total to 52 – one ahead of the 51-goal previous record held by France’s Thierry Henry.

Vision to hold in your mind: Giroud sweeping Mbappe’s low cross into the corner of the goal as England keeper Jordan Pickford looks accusingly at John Stones.

Raphael Varane

Manchester United fans might be looking at Raphael Varane and wondering why he doesn’t always look such a commanding figure at Old Trafford.

In a blue shirt, though, he appears a class act – the kind of defender who used to strut around with the same authority for Real Madrid.

Poland were very much in the game against the French and might well have scored had Varane not got his body in the way with a crucial block.

It was just one of several moments where France’s most reliable defender proved his worth.

Vision to hold in your mind: Harry Kane throwing his hands up in the air as Varane makes another timely intervention just as the England captain is about to pull the trigger.

Didier Deschamps

We all know Didier Deschamps is an excellent manager as he’s been catering to French expectations for 10 years.

But what you really need in a World Cup boss is authority – someone with enough respect from his players they will run themselves into the ground for him, even though he might just chew their ears off in the dressing room.

The most telling quotes after France’s win over the Poles was Deschamps’ withering warning to Jules Kounde over his decision to wear a gold chain, which then had to be removed by officials in mid-match.

You know who’s calling the shots with this French team – not Mbappe or Varane, but the little grey-haired general on the touchline.

Vision to welcome: when a smiling Deschamps shakes the hand of Gareth Southgate at the end and offers commiserations to the beaten Englishman.

La Marseillaise

One of the attributes of a truly great national anthem is that is shows up how desperately poor England’s is.

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau does it every time and so does the French offering, La Marseillaise.

It’s one to really get the old Gallic blood pumping, whether you’re in the Stade de France or downtown Doha.

England’s deary rendition of God Save the King will no doubt be belted out by their flag of St. George-draped fans, but the French one will steal all the thunder – and the hearts of any neutrals.

Vision to imagine: 10,000 French fans waving their flags and singing with passion. Plus three million back in Wales.

Social Share

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular Posts

Scroll to Top