LONDON, Dec 10 ― England’s depth on the substitutes bench could tip the balance in their favour in today’s World Cup quarter-final against France, according to former manager Glenn Hoddle.
Head coach Gareth Southgate has an enviable array of options, especially in the attacking third, and has utilised his squad to great effect in Qatar, with England scoring 12 goals already in four games.
The focus will again be on Southgate’s starting line-up today, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden all in contention to start alongside captain and chief goalscorer Harry Kane.
But Hoddle, who led England at the France 1998 tournament, says England’s ability to make attacking changes when things get tight could be the key to the outcome.
“I can see this one going to extra time, but I think England will win it with their subs,” Hoddle, an analyst and ambassador for betting firm Betfair, said yesterday.
“England have got players that can come on and be very important, because it might be a tighter game than they’ve been used to. It could be a game that England have to come back into, which is something they’ve not experienced yet.
“France rested a lot of players against Tunisia, and you could see their frailties in that match. They haven’t got the depth that England have got, particularly going forward, and this game could be tight.
“The subs will be brought on for a different reason than previous games, and they’ll be brought on to go and win this game or save the game.”
While England’s depth is underlined by the fact that they have had eight different scorers so far, France possess arguably the greatest match-winner in Kylian Mbappe.
“I think France are a very good side. Are they the outstanding team of the tournament? No,” said Hoddle.
“They’ve got the most outstanding player of the tournament in Kylian Mbappe, and England are going to have to stop him.”
But Hoddle says Mbappe’s tendency to offer little in a defensive capacity can also be a weakness.
“If you look at it, you’ve got to deal with Mbappe, but there’s an Achilles heel, because he’s so good (France) don’t let him defend,” the former midfielder said.
“There’s an overload and that can be exploited. In the end, if Mbappe starts tracking (Kyle) Walker back then you push him back and that’s where you want him.
“In all the games I’ve seen, he doesn’t seem to do that though and he just sits out and doesn’t defend.
“They wait to get the ball to him so he can counter, you’ve got to be very canny to defend it. England can exploit that space down the right and really overload the left back.” ― Reuters