On their way to being crowned world champions, England must end France’s reign as champions.

Beating the starters has never been achieved by England at a World Cup.

France put Gareth Southgate’s side to the ultimate test at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday night in their quest to reach a third consecutive semi-final of the tournament.

Captain Harry Kane said: “I feel like the belief has been building and building over the last five years.

“We came into this tournament hoping and believing we can win it.”

Canceling Qatar 2022 top scorer Kylian Mbappe will be essential – a likely task for Kyle Walker.

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Kyle Walker and Kylian Mbappe last faced each other in a Champions League game in September 2021. Photo: AP

Southgate said: “Kyle is ready. We are talking about one of the opponents, but France are a fantastic team and we know all their players.”

Not only has Mbappe scored five of France’s nine goals here, he’s set up two more.

Then there’s the often underrated Olivier Giroud.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - England v Senegal - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - December 4, 2022 England's Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates REUTERS/Marko Djurica TPX IMAGES DU DAY
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Jordan Henderson celebrates his goal against Senegal

Three goals from the 36-year-old took the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker to a record 52 goals for France.

And there’s the familiar face in goal for France – with Hugo Lloris who spent the last decade in London at Tottenham.

“Most of our players know them very well,” said the French captain. “We are used to playing against them.

“For some of us, of course, we play and train with them every day in England and if we can help our team-mates with any special knowledge that we have about them, then of course we do.

“From set pieces, yes, that’s one of their strengths, they’re very tall and they have good players who take good free-kicks. I think every little detail will count.”

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England's Jude Bellingham celebrates Jordan Henderson's first goal at the FIFA World Cup
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Jude Bellingham

For England, it will be maintaining strength at the back.

The only goals conceded were in the opening 6-2 win over Iran – with the game already won. Clean sheets have been kept in all three games since then.

In attack, England have not counted on Kane, who is one goal away from equaling Wayne Rooney’s national record of 53 goals.

Only one of England’s 12 goals has come from the captain – with eight scorers different from France’s three.

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And Kane believes the Euro 2020 finalists have “more conviction” than in Russia in 2018 when Croatia denied them the chance to face France in the final.

Croatia could still be runners-up after reaching the semi-finals – by stunning Brazil in a penalty shootout to set up a meeting with Argentina, who beat the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

The semi-final opponents for England or France will be Portugal or Morocco.

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