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It was heartbreak yet again for the English as Olivier Giroud headed the French into the semi finals of the World Cup where they’ll face Morocco.

Aurelien Tchouameni’s strike from outside the box opened the scoring for France in the 17th minute after a strong start from England. 10 minutes into the second half and Harry Kane dispatched from the penalty spot after the France goal scorer tripped Bukayo Saka inside the box. A trademark Giroud goal in the 78th minute dragged his side in front by getting across Harry Maguire to nod past the helpless Jordan Pickford. But then England once again had the chance to draw back level simmilarly from the penalty stop but this time Kane blazed over and that brought an end to England’s World Cup journey.

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England dominated the game on the whole having double the amount of shots as well as having an xG of 2.41 to Frances 1.01. But once again it was a cutting edge which was missing from England’s game which is somewhat a recurring theme but what wasn’t was having a referee as bad as what they did.

Wilton Sampaio

The man in charge, nothing short of abysmal!

This was Harry Maguire’s take on the referees evening, “I can’t really explain how bad his performance really was, I don’t want to go into too much, but his decisions were really poor throughout the game. Not just the big decisions, even though the big decisions were wrong he didn’t give us anything.”

Time after time whether it be the constant fouls on Saka which he continued to wave away, with one being in the build up to the first goal which wasn’t even checked by VAR. Or the fact he even waved away the foul on Mason Mount in the penalty box which was eventually given was everything that you wouldn’t expect of a referee officiating on the biggest stage in world football.

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A refereeing display which was close to if not on the levels of Tom Henning Ovrebo, the referee of Chelsea Vs Barcelona in 2009. Most famous for ‘that Drogba outburst’.

Gareth Southgate

Semi finals of the 2018 World Cup, runners up in the 2020 Euros, everything was heading in an upwards trajectory for Southgate and co, so is this now a backwards step?

Some may argue this is the first opponent we’ve faced in which we weren’t necessarily favourites to win and at the first major challenge we’ve fell short. However many argue against that suggesting this is the most united any England side has ever been, one in which everyone including fans and the media feel an actual connection to providing a positive atmosphere for young players to flourish, but is that enough in a ruthless business which is football.

Southgate’s reaction to the France defeat: “Well, I think the performance did [deserve better]. Goals are decisive but I just said to the players in there I don’t think they could give any more… I think they played really well against a top team and it’s fine margins, things at both ends that have ended up deciding the game, but I think the way they’ve progressed throughout this tournament has been fantastic.”

Southgate’s current contract will take him through to the 2024 Euros but he’s admitted he’ll need some time to reflect before deciding on his future: “There are lots of things in my head that are really conflicted at the moment, so what I want to make sure, if it’s the right thing to stay, is that I’ve definitely got the energy to do that.”

France

A team with the know how, a team which has been there and done it.

By all means they didn’t play their best game against England but that doesn’t always have to be the case when you have players of the quality of; Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Greizmann. Moments of brilliance is sometimes all is required to take your side through to the next stage, as was on show with their perfectly dispatched goals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en2bswIl4Oo

The French will now go onto face Morocco in the semi finals in which they’ll be massive favourites, although the African side will be no push over after now knocking out Spain and Portugal on their way. But it’s now well within Didier Deschamps sight that his side can now go all the way in this World Cup and become back to back World Champions.

Will the French claim back to back World Cup titles?

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May 2024
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