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England’s best and worst routes to final with Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo waiting

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ENGLAND now know their potential route to end 56 years of World Cup hurt with the knockout draw for Qatar 2022 completed – and may have to see off three of the best players on the way.

South Korea and Switzerland joined Portugal and Brazil by sealing their places in the last 16 on Friday.

Gareth Southgate hopes to be leading his men out at the Lusail Stadium on December 18

The wheat have been separated from the chaff and now the wallcharts are looking perfectly set up and ready for the drama of knockout tournament football.

So Gareth Southgate and the Three Lions fans in Qatar and back home can work out how their fixtures could unfold over the next fortnight.

SunSport has looked through and worked out the best and worst scenarios for England’s road to glory…

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Quarter-final vs France, Saturday 10 Dec, 7pm, Al Bayt Stadium

England topped Group B which set up a last-16 clash with runners-up from Group A, Senegal.

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England blew away Senegal in their last 16 clash

Gareth Southgate’s troops tamed The Lions of Terenga – running out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka.

But they will face a sterner test in the quarter-finals against defending champions France on Saturday night.

Quarter-final, Sat 10 Dec, 7pm, Al Bayt Stadium

Didier Deschamp’s troops booked their spot in the last with a 3-1 win over Poland – with a brace from Kylian Mbappe and a record-breaking goal from Olivier Giroud doing the damage.

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The PSG are scored a brace in France's last-16 clash with Poland

And despite their shock defeat to Tunisia in their final group match, Les Bleus look a solid bet to retain their title.

Semi-final, Weds 14 Dec, 7pm, Al Bayt Stadium

Another knockout game, another trip to the Al Bayt Stadium should England reach the last four by seeing off France.

There, the worst-case scenario would be Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal or a Spain side that smashed Costa Rica for seven.

Both sides have recent trophy-winning experience and would have the confidence of going all the way if they reached the semis.

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Spain play surprise package Morocco in their last-16 clash after missing out on top spot by losing to Japan.

Portugal, meanwhile, take on Switzerland in the second round – with the Swiss arguably the weakest team in that quarter.

Narrow wins over Cameroon and Serbia saw the Swiss progress but they lack the firepower up front and can be targeted, especially by the Three Lions’ wide men.

Final, Sun 18 Dec, 3pm, Lusail Stadium

The World Cup final, the biggest match in football – and England are just three wins away from it.

If the Three Lions can prove to be the best of the bunch in the bottom half of the draw, they will book their spot in the showpiece event and a first trip to the now-89,000-seater Lusail Stadium.

The worst-case scenario, let’s be frank, would be pre-tournament favourites Brazil or Argentina.

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Brazil have probably the best squad at the World Cup but despite two wins in the group, have not been at their swashbuckling best many expected.

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Argentina, aka Lionel Messi and Mates, suffered that shock early defeat to Saudi Arabia but bounced back to beat Mexico and Poland and safely go through.

They are scheduled to meet in a blockbuster all-South American semi-final on December 13.

Brazil must get past South Korea and then Japan or Croatia while Argentina face Australia in the last 16 before Holland or USA in the quarters.

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It would be a huge surprise if it was not a Brazil vs Argentina semi-final – and it’s too tough to call who would win that at the moment.

The weakest teams on that half of the draw are probably USA or Australia – while England would certainly fancy their chances against the Dutch, South Korea, giant-killers Japan and Croatia in revenge for 2018.

Source: The Sun

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