|Host country: Qatar Dates: November 20-December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV programs – Full coverage details|
It’s a game that many England fans have had on their minds since the World Cup matches were announced: France in the quarter-finals.
It is the toughest test yet for Gareth Southgate and his Three Lions. How will they line up and deal with the current holders and one of the most impressive teams in the tournament to date?
The match itself will be historic: it will be the first time the men’s sides have met in a knockout match in any competition, and the first at a World Cup since 1982.
It features Kylian Mbappé, the French striker and Golden Boot contender, and Jude Bellingham, the England midfielder whose name is on everyone’s lips. Will either of them make a difference?
England have so far scored 12 goals and France nine. So will Saturday’s game be a thriller or a restrained encounter? Will it go to penalty kicks?
The two managers, Southgate and Didier Deschamps, have given their thoughts before the game. Here’s what you need to know…
“Some of our defeats will prepare us for this night”
England have risen to the tournament, with their 3-0 win over Senegal in the last 16 arguably their most impressive performance to date.
Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the last World Cup before beating Italy in the Euro 2020 final and he says those experiences are helping.
“From our experience, those big games are important reference points for the team,” said Southgate.
“There have been some defeats that hurt and prepare you for nights like tomorrow where you have to be the very best version of yourself. We are ready to fight France for that spot in the semi-finals.”
It was a sentiment captain Harry Kane shared when he said his team “didn’t really know what to expect” during their run in 2018.
“We went in with the belief that we could win, but it was almost a new experience for a lot of us,” said Kane. “We reached the semi-finals and were over the moon, but I’m not sure if we had the full faith to win the tournament.
“We entered this tournament with the hope and belief that we can win it. We have to reach a stage where we expected and now it’s about trying to persevere.”
Asked what he would say to his players in the dressing room ahead of the game, Southgate said: “Nothing at all. Harry [Kane] Do it. At that point, the messages are done and the work is done. It’s up to the players. We leave it to the players.”
Midfielder Jordan Henderson, who has started the last two games, told BBC Sport the match will be a “huge test” but will be about “producing on the biggest stage” and a chance to “show what we are capable of to be”.
‘England has no weaknesses’
England entered the competition with questions and criticism about their style of play and they were repeated after their uneventful 0-0 draw with the USA in the group stage.
Their other three games, however, featured attacking, free-flowing football and they are the tournament’s top scorers, sharing goals with eight different players to score – and they’ve also kept three clean sheets.
When asked what England’s weaknesses are, French national coach Deschamps replied: “They don’t have those.
“All teams have strengths, not all have a lot of weaknesses, but slightly less strengths. At the end of the day, you need to identify areas that you think you can attack.
“Speed is often one of the keys to the game. When he is fast, the opponent has less time to organize. You need more than just speed to score goals. You can stop many things, but it is very difficult to stop someone who is.” very fast, especially in transitions.
“England are very strong in that area and scored a lot of goals with quick counter-attacks. They also have many other qualities in terms of technical ability, the ability to score goals and to be dangerous in set pieces.”
“It’s no coincidence that they face us in the quarter-finals.”
France go into the game with defender Jules Kounde and midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni each yellow carded, and both would miss a possible semi-final if they were cautioned, but Deschamps said: “You can’t expect them to play with the handbrake on” . .
“They will have to dig deep and give everything,” said Deschamps, who is out of contract after this tournament.
“I think playing with the handbrake on is the worst thing we can do.”
Deschamps added that France is “calm and very serene” and has “the best focus in every game because there’s no point in being stressed and putting yourself under pressure”.
How can I watch and follow England v France?
ITV will show the match live with highlights and clips on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
There will be full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds. Coverage starts at 12:00 GMT and includes commentary on Morocco and Portugal at 15:00.
The BBC Sport website will have live text commentary and there will also be a live text with news for the match throughout the day.