England have spent years copying France. Now can they dethrone them? | England

Before England set off for Qatar, there was a feeling at the top of the Football Association, a consensus even. The World Cup was wide open, with eight or nine countries capable of winning it and England were absolutely a part of this pack. Yet if there was one team that stood out in the view of senior FA figures, one to be feared more than the others, it was France.

Perhaps the view was coloured by the possibility of France lying in wait for England at the quarter‑final stage, being the first elite-level nation that Gareth Southgate’s team stood to face. It was a prospect to sharpen…

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