World Cup 2022 stats show where England vs France will be won and why Olivier Giroud could be key threat | The Sun

ENGLAND won their only previous World Cup with Sir Alf Ramsey’s “wingless wonders” in 1966.

But if Gareth Southgate’s side are to repeat that success in Qatar it will be because of the threat they have out wide.

The most stand-out statistic of the first winter World Cup has been the return of old-fashioned wing-play.

Fifa’s statistical study of the opening phase showed an increase of a staggering 83 per cent in the number of goals scored from “open play crosses”.

England continued that theme against Senegal in their last 16 clash, with Jordan Henderson’s opener and Bukayo Saka’s clincher coming after low balls into the danger zone when the defensive line was breached down the left flank.

Indeed, England have been setting that tournament standard since the opening game of their magic carpet ride through the desert.

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Jude Bellingham put them on their way with his header against Iran from Luke Shaw’s centre, before skipper Harry Kane set up Raheem Sterling and Callum Wilson rolled inside for Jack Grealish to score.

Kane then repeated the dose for Phil Foden’s goal in the 3-0 win over Wales, before the two crosses were converted against Senegal.

Quarter-final opponents France have been equally deadly, with Kylian Mbappe scoring three of his five goals from crosses or cut-backs and Olivier Giroud twice converting inviting centres.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now Fifa’s head of global technical development, predicted: “From what we have seen so far, the team with the best wide players will win the tournament.

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“Teams are blocking the centre of the pitch but are more open on the flanks where they think they can risk the consequences.

“But it seems from the group stage that the teams with the best wide players in such a tournament are the ones with the best chance to win.

“It was going to be interesting to see if that continued and it has.”

Jurgen Klinsmann, head of Fifa’s Technical Study Group, added: “If you put in quality crosses it is easier to lose your defender in the box.

“Coaches tend to focus their defensive block in the middle areas of the pitch and it makes it difficult for teams to break through there.

“Those defensive lines have made it difficult to pull the trigger from 20-25 yards but getting the ball wide and making crosses gives the forward players the chance to make the runs and get on the end of them.”

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