Day 2 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Quarter finals is here and with it what is surely to be one of the most exciting match-ups of the competition as an electric England side take on the reigning champions, France!
The past 4 years have been full of hope and great expectations for English fans.
After decades of chronically underperforming at international tournaments, in 2018 the English side finally seemed to come together in a way that other more star-studded British sides had not been able to since 1990.
Making a dream run in Russia 2018, a young and optimistic side led by Gareth Southgate managed to snag themselves 4th place in the competition with some energetic and impressive displays.
3 years later, they would go even further than that in Euro 2022, making it all the way to the final against Italy only to go down on penalties. Since 1966, it had never been closer to “coming home” than this.
Cut to the present day, the same base squad - along with a few new hugely talented additions - has now made it to the Quarter-finals after some impressive performances that have fans dreaming of glory all over again.
Players like Bellingham, Foden and Saka have been absolute World Cup revelations, and the Three Lions have shown themselves to play beautiful attacking football that is both fast, tidy, and deadly effective. They have certainly shown to be serious contenders to win the whole thing.
But they have one gigantic problem to solve this Saturday if they are to do so. France.
The Curse of the European World Cup Champions has had many victims throughout the decades, ever since France first suffered from it in 2002. In fact, after this 2022 display, some would even say teams like Germany and Spain are still suffering from it to this day.
But you know who has not been affected by it in any single way? The 2022 France national side.
Coming into the cup with about half a dozen key players missing thanks to injuries - and losing Lucas Hernandez 13 minutes into the tournament - things were not looking great for France. When they went down 1-0 to Australia in their first match, it seemed like the curse had claimed yet another victim.
But not this French team. They simply shook it off and put four goals past them. And they have not looked back since. Sure, they lost 1-0 against Tunisia in their last group stage game. But having already tied up their qualification in the previous match, it was a match for their B team with nothing to play for.
If anyone was left with questions after that match, they were surely answered as France swiftly dispatched Poland 3-1 in the Round of 16 in a game that never really felt like it could go another way.
In every game that mattered, France had shown themselves as cool, calm and collected as they get, rarely ever seeming troubled by their opponents in any significant way. Not even for a second have they appeared to be second best.
With their emphatic displays throughout the tournament, France have made it clear that no curse can touch this side. England will have a lot of work to do if they plan to somehow stop them.
Anyone who’s been following both teams throughout the tournament is surely licking their lips in anticipation of what is surely going to be one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament. With both teams favouring flashy attacking football, there will be plenty of excitement at both ends of the field.
France have now reached the quarter-finals in five of the last seven World Cups - including the last three tournaments. Even more telling, they have come out ahead in 8 of their last 10 knockout games when faced against other European sides.
Meanwhile, England has plenty of history of being knocked out during the Quarterfinal round, crashing out on 6 different occasions - including most recently the 2002 and 2006 tournaments.
Their record against other UEFA sides is also less than stellar, with England being eliminated by another European side in six of their last eight World Cup appearances.
While on paper France seems like the more powerful of the two sides, the truth is, in the World Cup, anything can happen, especially when a side as talented as England is present. Rather than try and predict the winner here, it may be a good idea to take a look at the amount of goals scored, whereas at a price of 2.05 at Betway, the over seems like a good value bet.