Chris Waddle believes France are the best team at World Cup 2022 and boast the tournament’s best player in Kylian Mbappe - leading him to predict that their quarter-final clash with England could go all the way to a penalty shoot-out.
France topped Group D after winning their first two games and beat Poland comfortably in the Round of 16, while Mbappe has netted five times so far.
However, Waddle feels that England, who have been similarly impressive up to this point, could take the reigning champions beyond the end of normal time - but will be under pressure if the contest goes to spot-kicks.
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “France have been heavily backed and look like the best team at the tournament so far, they certainly have the best player in Mbappe.
“I think that this could go all the way to a penalty shoot-out and if that happens, the pressure becomes greater for England.
“We always build up penalties in England because of our history. Whenever the word penalties is mentioned, people are worried. From 1990 onwards, we’ve experienced heartache.
“There’ll be players on the pitch that will say, ‘I’ll take a penalty’, but it's easier said than done. I’ve got massive respect for anyone that steps up and takes a penalty at a major finals.
“[Hugo] Lloris and [Jordan] Pickford are quite well-matched when it comes to penalties. I wouldn’t say one player has an edge over the other or both were outstanding penalty savers.
“If it were to go to penalties, you need a little bit of luck. A lot of England players will have the memories of what happened at the Euros, so that creates more pressure for them than France.”
England Must Be Positive
And Waddle feels it would be a mistake for England to approach the game negatively, despite France’s quality in attack.
“I think it would be daft of Gareth Southgate to go with a back five,” he added.
“I think England should match them. Luke Shaw and Kyle Walker have massive responsibility.
“I don’t think there is a lot between the two teams in the midfield. [Antoine] Griezmann is dangerous, but so is [Jude] Bellingham.
“We’ll need to get our wide forwards in the game attacking the French full backs to have any chance.”
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