World Cup 2022
England vs France | Analysis
One of the most interesting and surprising World Cup editions is getting close to its final stages and with that also the big clashes between the world’s best football national teams. England: “The three lions” opened their tournament with a very impressive 6-2 win against Iran and ignited the imagination of football fans around the world, a goalless draw in the second match against the USA and a clear victory in the “British derby” against Wales got them the first place in Group B and the ticket to the round of 16. Facing Senegal in the first match of the knockouts they showed their most complete performance so far with a convincing 3-0 win. Being one of the last 4 teams to stay unbeaten in the tournament, they are facing France in the quarter-final in order this time to go all the way and “bring it home”. France: The World Champions opened their race to defend the title a bit heavily conceding an early goal after only 7 minutes in their opening match against Australia, ending the game with a comeback 4-1 and another win against Denmark were enough to get the first place in the group, despite a surprising lose against Tunisia in the third match. They showed dominance in the round of 16 while facing tough opponents such as Poland, continuing their dream to complete a back-to-back World Cup winning. We will follow some interesting statistical comparisons worth watching about the teams before they face each other on the pitch for a battle for a spot in the Semi-final of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
Despite creating more chances and making more shots off and on target, France scored less goals in this tournament (7) than their English rivals which are the tournament's greatest scorers so far with (12) goals. The main reason for that must be the way both teams get into their chance to score and how they look like: England's game is based on ball possession and fastly swapping sides in order to get a free player with the ball in the final third, while the other players make off-the-ball movements and join the box waiting for a through pass or a cross inside. On the other hand, the French team focuses on moving the ball and trying to pass it to one of their wingers trusting his 1v1 skills to create a situation to aim for a goal and score which increases the percentage the action will end with a blocked shot, it reflected in the team’s stats with France having 16 blocked shots so far in comparison to England's more clinical approach with only 8.
Preferred area to attack
Looking at the distribution of the attacks of the teams by area, we can see an interesting pattern from each team in their way of creating chances. France attacks mostly from the left side of the pitch with Mbappe there with 122 attacks, while in second place is the right side with Dembele with 92 attacks, we can see clearly that they try mostly to attack from the wings and prefer to leave the centre with only 80 attacks from there. On the other hand, we see a more balanced picture from England with the small change between the wides to the centre and a real minor change between the sides with 100 on the left and 104 on the right, I assume the reason for it is Saka’s regular spot on the starting XI.
Kylian Mbappe v Leo Messi
Kylian Mbappe is having a great season (2022/23) so far and it seems it’s only getting better in Qatar. We can see here a comparison between PSG’s forwards and the 2 players with the best form in the tournament so far and it could tell a lot about Kylian’s style of play. Mbappe is the most important player for his team and the way they play is built on his ability to create a chance to score with his 1v1 skills, we can see he has more shots than Messi and has the most dribbles in the tournament so far, but when it comes to the efficiency Mbappe is only in the second place, despite having lower quantity Messi leads it with his quality - a better percentage of the number of shots on target, successful dribbles, successful actions and challenges won. But the major difference is in the variety of actions each of them has with Messi making more key passes, creating more chances and having his scoring situations better with higher xG per shot. While Mbappe mostly ended his 1v1 situations with a shot, having more shots than Messi after more than two touches in the ball (basically after a dribbling action), he forced a shot in a big number of chances and decreased his xG percentage and getting more times blocked by the defenders. Although Mbappe is less diverse in his style of play he still has more goals and assists than Messi and it shows his effectiveness and how clinical he is in this world cup.
The striker position
Another interesting comparison between the teams would be in the striker position. Olivier Giroud broke Thiery Henry’s all-time top scorer record for the France national team. He’s in a good form compared to his last world cup with 0 shots on target despite winning the wanted cup. In this tournament he already scored 3 goals and made more shots on goal in 3 matches, being more active in front of the goal than England’s Kane (who has 4 appearances). With fewer shots on goal but being much more active in the other aspects Kane is the reason for England’s balance in the ways to attack. He passed twice more than Giroud and made 9 key passes to his teammates which led to 3 assists (best in the tournament alongside Bruno Fernandes). Kane’s also more active while off the ball contributing to the pressure game with 10 defensive challenges and 3 ball recoveries in the rival’s half. This difference between the strikers and the variety of options Kane adds to England's Trio up front could be the advantage in the clash in comparison to France’s one-way system to score goals.
This comparison tells a very interesting story about two different approaches to the defensive style of play. France leads in every aspect related to defending in their own half - stats like defensive challenges, air challenges won, tackles, ball interceptions and ball recoveries. It supports France’s defensive approach of going back in two classic lines while the rivals have the ball, they have a less active front three and prefer to avoid pressing and count on their defensive line and defensive midfield. With England the story is different - their pair of centre-backs is a bit slow and find it hard to stay solid for all 90 minutes. Their approach to the defensive style is all about pressing - with much higher stats on every aspect related to defending in the opponent’s half, every player has a role and they work very hard to close the centre and make it hard for the opponent to complete the transition from defence to attack. While Kane is pressing the player with the ball, the midfield is moving very tight in the middle third and closing the gaps to push the ball between the lines, when they find the moment all players go up and press until the rivals are out of possession.
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