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England vs. France in World Cup?

Today, I was in my car thinking about it. On yesterday’s podcast, my co-host Martin and I were talking about how, after you take out John Terry, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, England really has nothing. And, on top of that, if you were to take the French influence out of the English Premiership, teams like Chelsea and Arsenal would collapse.

So, I was looking at my brackets for the World Cup and I must admit I have France going pretty far. While I know that this could be a debate within itself, I still have them there. And, in order for France to make it to the quarterfinals, they (according to my bracket) would have to play England.

So, if this is the case, lets look at the possible matchup. We will go from position to position.


This one is easy. France has Hugo Lloris, a Champions League team goaltender. They also have Steve Mandanda, the goaltender for traditional powerhouse Marseille, and Cedric Carrasso, keeper for Bordeaux, who defeated Bayern twice and Juventus once.

England, well they have David James. For some reason, England likes to go with keepers that are nearing their pension age (David Seaman, Nigel Martyn). James will be 38 years old when the tournament starts. And this is their saving grace in goal?

Well, they do have backups. Paul Robinson, who is alright, plays for Blackburn Rovers, who are sitting in 12th place. Not too impressive. They have Ben Foster who is the 3rd, yes 3rd, keeper on Manchester United. They have the mighty Robert Green, that plays for relegation zone team West ham United. They also have Joe Hart and Scott Carson. Who? Exactly!


Of course England has John Terry. Now, I will be fair in this article. If a player is good, I am going to acknowledge it. I’m not going to talk about how someone is overrated and so on. Therefore, John Terry is a superstar and an important part of the English National Team.

But after that, the player pool dips a little. Wes Brown and Ashley Cole has shown that they can hold their own in the EPL. But Wayne Bridge has been horrible with Manchester City this year, as has Rio Ferdinand with United. Bridge’s teammate, Joleon Lescott, has been less that impressive since joining The Citizens at the end of the transfer window. And, as for the rest of their players, I highly doubt that Matthew Upson, Glen Johnson, Gary Neville (who is quite old now) and Ledley King are being looked at by top-non EPL teams.

Now, lets look at France. And, luckily for us, many of the French defenders play in the EPL. So we will star with them. Bacary Sagna, Patrice Evra, William Gallas and Gael Clichy (who rarely ever plays for France but plays for Arsenal quite often) are easily better defenders than the squad that England can put up, with he exception of John Terry. But those are just the players that are in the EPL. Add to that Eric Abidal, Jean-Alain Boumsong (who, I will admit has played less than impressive since returning from injury), Sebastien Squiallaci and Julien Escude and England’s defense doesn’t stand a chance!

That doesn’t even include defenders that play in Ligue 1 that have failed to make the French National Team but could make the English team if they were born across the channel. Mathieu Chalme, Michael Ciani, Marc Planus and Benoit Tremoulinus could easily make the English National Team. And that is only a group of players from ONE Ligue 1 club, Bordeaux. You could easily add Cedric Hengbart and Aly Cissokho (who has been called up recently) to the French team as well. Therefore, advantage on defense….France, even with the mighty John Terry.


This is where England could give France a run for their money. They have David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. These players excel at their position an are amongst the best in the game. Theo Walcott is also starting to fall into this category as well.

But, again, after these three players, most of their players are average. Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips have been less than impressive with Manchester City this year. Michael Carrick is a good midfielder, but I think he would falter if he played in any other league. The same can be said for Aaron Lennon (who has been impressive this year, I must admit), Jermaine Jenas and Ashley Young.

Now, France. Theirry Henry, Franck Ribery, Yoann Gourcuff, Jeremy Toulalan, Florent Malouda, Alou Diarra, Sidney Govou, Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Flamini. Do I really need to expand on that?

While England does have a good starting midfield, their depth is less than desirable. France, on the other hand, doesn’t have that problem. If one of their players go down, they have a strong replacement. England doesn’t.



Wayne Rooney. That is pretty much it. After him, England has nothing.

Now, I know that some English supporters will cling on to Michael Owen’s performance in the 1998 World Cup as a 16-year old instead of dealing with the fact that Alan Shearer didn’t want to start him in his last few games at Newcastle and that Fergie likes to use him as a bench-warmer more than a starter. Still, Owen seems to be the answer, according the many English fans.

Peter Couch, the 7’10” needle for Tottenham, is also more of a bench-warmer than a starter. I will admit, he has played decently for England the last few years, scoring 18 goals in 36 matches. But when eight of those goals came against Jamaica, Andorra and Belarus, who really cares. In fact, the only quality opponents that Crouch has scored against has been Greece, Croatia, Ukraine and Uruguay…not exactly Brazil or Spain.

The only possible person that, in my opinion, that can play up front with Rooney is Jermain Defoe. This is a player that has been overlooked by the English National Team for some time now. But after his five-goal performance against Wigan, he has finally been given some credit. But in international play, Defoe has scored against less than impressive opponents, with the exception of the Netherlands, where is scored two goals in an August friendly.

And, again, I am sure that someone will bring up Emile Heskey. While I have always liked him, he is as much the ‘answer’ for England as is Michael Owen.

Now, again, lets look at France. Nicolas Anelka, Karin Benzema, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Loic Remy and the returning Jimmy Briand are all better than most of the English players. Both Nicolas Anelka and Karim Benzema are equals to Wayne Rooney. But Gignac (a player that English teams want), Remy (a player that English teams want) and Briand (a player that English teams want) easily dominate the overrated, under-talented English striking force.

And I didn’t even add Thierry Henry or Sidney Govou, who could easily be added to their natural striker position.


Pure and simple, France has a better team than England. And every four years, we hear that “England is going to win the World Cup”. And in recent history, France has done quite better than England, winning one and being in the final of another.

And when was the last time that England made a final? 1966. And of the team that won that final match against West Germany, six of them are over the age of 71 and two have died. Not exactly a great track record, in my opinoin.

Yes, England might have the better manager. What do I mean “might”, they do have the better manager, by far! But management alone doesn’t win World Cups.

Remember, France reached to World Cup final, and who did they have as their manager? Raymond Domenech.

France vs. England….advantage….France.


4 Responses

  1. don’t forget Seba Frey, who is amazing. If we get a new manager he will start. David Beckham is ridiculously far from being the best in his position. He doesn’t start for England. Also, the point is proven even more by the fact that you left out many excellent french players.

  2. Oh, if I kept listing them, the list would be endless. England’s list is very shallow.

  3. No doubt France in general has better players than England, but that doesn’t mean that France is the better team. For some reason, France’s superstars haven’t played well together against good competition in a while. But I think France will rise to the occasion. I can’t wait to see France vs. Mexico. That should be a great game with plenty of attacking play from both sides.

  4. […] England vs. France in World Cup? – December 15th […]

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