Who can England face in World Cup knockouts? Messi or Mbappe await


Sometimes clichés are clichés for a reason. For example, England were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup at least eight times between 1950 and 2006. No side has bowed out more in the last eight.

Remember when everyone was making such a big deal about England failing to progress past that particular hurdle? Well, that’s exactly why. Every joke, as they say, has a kernel of truth.

All this does not bode well for Gareth Southgate’s boys in Qatar. Not given the quality of opposition they could have faced in the quarter-finals.

Now England should shouldfinish top of a group containing Wales, USA and a discreetly dangerous Iranian outfit.

The first elimination round is when things get really serious. The true equivalent of going from semi-pro to pro in FIFA 23. Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side have plenty of elite-level talent in their ranks. And if you think Sadio Mane is scary enough, then you probably haven’t been paying enough attention to his Senegal team-mates Ismaila Sarr, Bamba Dieng and Iliman Ndiaye.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

If there is to be a shock in Group A, Southgate and his coaching staff will have to brush up on their knowledge of Ecuador or hosts Qatar.

How far can England go at the World Cup in Qatar?

But the quarter-final position is definitely there. Then come the big boys. Boss battle area. France or Argentina? Kylian Mbappe or Lionel Messi? It’s like choosing between a steamroller squishing you into human jelly or a Spartan kicking you into a pit of poisonous snakes.

Of course, the identity of England’s quarter-final opponents – should they get that far – depends on what happens in Groups C and D. Argentina have made great strides since Jorge Sampaoli’s ill-fated era. They certainly made short work of Italy Finalissima (yes, that’s a real competition).

Lionel Scaloni’s side are the clear favorites to win Group C ahead of Mexico, Saudi Arabia and a perennially underwhelming Poland side likely to feature a frustrated and starved Robert Lewandowski.

France is the strongest team in Group D despite the presence of an excellent Danish team. Les Bleus, The World Cup holders should have too much to do with whoever finishes behind Argentina even in the round of 16.

Another quarter-final?

Should England come through against Argentina or France – the first time in generations (we’re in dreamland now, lads) that they’ve beaten a genuine challenger in a knockout tie – Harry Kane and co could face the Spanish. , Belgium, Brazil or Portugal in the semi-finals.

Germany, another potential opponent, have revived under former Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick and will have revenge on their minds after last year’s Euros.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. This is an England side in a far from convincing state, at least compared to the one that came within a few penalty kicks of glory at Wembley 15 months ago, with so many of Southgate’s most trusted lieutenants either out of form or out. favors at the club level.

But if you can’t dream of a thrilling run to a World Cup final on the brink of another World Cup, then when can you?

Photo by Eddie Keogh – FA/The FA via Getty Images

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