Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier
It’s hard to believe, but England are yet to pick up a single booking at the World Cup. Yep, despite having Harry Maguire at centre-back – a player who has picked up three yellow cards in his four Premier League appearances this season – and Harry Kane up front, who comes from the Paul Scholes’ school of late tackles, and has five cards to his name for Spurs this term, the referee is yet to take a single name.
That could come to a halt on Saturday night, however, with Kylian Mbappe and his Les Blues team-mates likely to pose a tougher test. Here’s five players who could end up in referee’s notebook.
- CAN FRANCE REPEAT THEIR 2018 HEROICS? Read our France Team Preview for the World Cup
- WILL ENGLAND’S LIONS ROAR OR PURR? Read our England Team Preview for the World Cup
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Saturday, December 10: 7pm – World Cup quarter-final, England v France
TV: ITV, ITVX, RTE Two
Depending on who starts in the right-back (or right-wing-back) position against Kylian Mbappe, they’re going to be in for one of the longest nights of their career. Aston’s Villa’s Matty Cash spoke at length after Poland’s loss to France about how difficult he was to mark: you stay close and he beats you in a sprint, you give him space and he finds how to get around you or moves the ball around.
Whoever starts here against Mbappe is going to be beaten by pace, there’s no defender that can keep up with the PSG star and we fancy whoever that is to get his name taken by the referee.
Luke Shaw is likely to be facing Ousmane Dembele for the majority of the game. He’ll also have to contend with the positional play of their right-back Jules Kounde as he gets forward and, of course, you have Antoine Griezmann roving around in his free role and sure, we’ll probably see Mbappe popping over to that side of the pitch too.
Shaw’s is finally back to his best this season but he’s got three yellow cards over his league games from Manchester United this campaign, all coming against teams with speedy wingers, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s cautioned here.
Theo Hernandez will start at left-back and as such will be up against either Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka or even Marcus Rashford if Southgate goes with a formation aimed at giving more support to Harry Kane up top. Hernandez has so far stayed out of the referee’s wee black book but he’s one of Deschamps’ players who regularly finds himself in trouble when playing league football.
As AC Milan’s right-back he’s already picked up five yellow cards this season with two of them coming in high-pressure games against Inter and Atalanta and against counter-attacking sides Verona, Spezia and Sassuolo. He’s a quality player, he’s set up two goals already at the World Cup and scores the odd one for his club side, but he’s liable for a late tackle and he’s a decent shout to get a card here.
Aurelien Tchouameni looks like he’s going to be quite the player. Real Madrid paid around €80m for him over the summer and were so confident of his abilities they allowed Casemiro to leave for rainy Manchester. But, like Casemiro, he’s got a dirty side to his game. He’s picked up one yellow card already at the World Cup and over his last two seasons with Monaco picked up an eye-watering 18 cards.
His job for France is to protect his centre-backs and feed the ball to Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann when in possession. When they don’t have it his job is simple: get the ball back. We don’t want to see him booked here as that would mean he’ll miss the next match should France outwit England, but with his record for bookings he has to make our list of potentials.
Spurs captain Harry Kane is having a good World Cup – setting up three goals and getting his name on the scoresheet against Senegal. But, he can’t tackle. He just can’t.
We’ve all seen the highlights of him leaving in a leg late or an elbow the odd time too and it’s just pointless. Lionel Messi doesn’t go in for that kind of thing, neither does Mbappe or Robert Lewandowski. Save your energy for attacking, that’s what forwards are supposed to do.
He’s bagged himself five yellow cards for Tottenham this season and while he’s only picked up two so far on senior England duty, it’s not beyond possible to see him getting a bit frustrated here against the French backline and getting booked.
READ MORE ON THE WORLD CUP
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