As we all know, most football rivalries tend to go beyond simple activities on the pitch. England vs France is one of those age-old rivalries that dates back over a hundred years on the pitch and forever off it.
Another chapter will be added to that rivalry at World Cup 2022, as the pair meet in the competition’s quarter-finals on Saturday, 10th December. The game promises to be a fascinating encounter between two of Europe’s top teams.
The first meeting and statistics
The first official meeting of the two nations’ football teams is reported to have taken place on November 1st 1906, at the Parc des Princes. To say it was a one-sided affair would be an understatement, as England recorded a 15-0 win in the international friendly match. It remains France’s biggest-ever defeat in the international game.
The scoreline may not have been a sign of things to come for France, but the result was as the history of the fixture is very much waited in England’s favour. The Three Lions also recorded six straight victories over Les Bleus in the 1920s.
Overall, the Three Lions have recorded 17 wins over Les Bleus while suffering nine defeats, with five games finishing in draws. Crucially, England has never lost to France at the World Cup.
The World Cup meetings
The two European giants have met on just two occasions at World Cups. The first one was a key one for England, as Sir Alf Ramsey’s team recorded a 2-0 win over France at Wembley on July 20th 1966.
The game was the last group game at World Cup 1966, and victory saw the hosts book their place in the knockout stages of the competition. Liverpool’s Roger Hunt scored a brace to give the Three Lions victory. The victory was achieved on the way to England winning their only ever international silverware, the 1966 World Cup.
The pair met again at World Cup 1982 in Spain, and once again, England came out on top, recording a 3-1 victory. The biggest talking point was midfield marvel Bryan Robson scoring after just 27 minutes.
Despite England’s historical supremacy, France has had the upper hand in the recent meetings of the duo. Since 1992, Les Bleus have won four friendly games and recorded a 2-1 win in the group stages of Euro 2004. England has not beaten France since November 2015, a victory achieved in a friendly encounter. The win is the Three Lions’ only victory over Les Bleus in eight games.
Harry Kane vs Kylian Mbappe
This game pits two of the best forwards in the world game against each other in England’s Harry Kane and France’s superstar Kylian Mbappe. They are very different players, but both are world-class at what they do.
Kane is in the prime of his career at 29. The Tottenham forward has scored a highly respectable 52 goals in 79 games for his national team. However, he brings far more than just goals to his team.
The England captain has scored once at the World Cup, but he has also produced three assists for his teammates in Qatar. A crucial fact may be that his one goal at the World Cup was in England’s last game, a 3-0 win over Senegal in the previous round.
Kane is the focal point of the England attack. He uses his intelligence to create space and goals for others. If France doesn’t control Kane, then they don’t stop England.
Kylian Mbappe is arguably the best forward of his type in the world game. He is explosive and, at times, unplayable. The PSG star has already scored five times in four appearances at the World Cup.
At 23 years of age, Mbappe is at the other end of the age scale to Kane. However, he has already won the World Cup with Les Bleus while also scoring 33 goals in 63 appearances for his national team. His strike rate is not as good as Kane’s at international level, but it is improving as Mbappe matures as a footballer and a person.
The pair are so good that their performances in Saturday’s quarter-final could well decide which team books their place in the World Cup semi-finals for the second straight competition.
A close encounter
The England vs France clash on Saturday has the potential to be a fascinating encounter, as arguably, there is very little between the two teams. The game could truly go either way and could even go to extra time or the dreaded penalty shootout.
Saturday’s quarter-final encounter will add only add to the rivalry that, although not the most recognised, still exists between the two big European footballing nations.