Dwight Yorke doesn’t think football is coming home.
The Manchester United legend would like to be disproved as he cites his strong ties with England, but he predicts Gareth Southgate’s side will struggle with the crushing burden of expectations and the X-factor of French megastar Kylian Mbappe To finish.
The old rivals go head-to-head on Sunday (6:00am AEDT) in a delicious World Cup quarter-final clash between the fourth (France) and fifth (England) teams in the world.
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“This is where I think England will fall short,” Yorke said in an exclusive interview with Wide World of Sports
“This will undoubtedly be the biggest test. I think they had a reasonable ride to the quarter-finals doing what they had to do to get the results, so don’t take anything away from England.”
“But the French have three big stars of the competition and the new superstar. We’re talking about (Lionel) Messi inspiring his Argentine teammates – well, Mbappe is the man.
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“He’s the only person they really need to stop. The opponent they played against isn’t really like the top guys yet.”
England led Group B after beating Iran 6-2 and Wales 3-0 while the United States were held to a goalless draw.
In the round of 16 they then outclassed Senegal 3-0.
France, the defending champions, won Group D by beating Australia 4-1 and Denmark 2-1 before losing 1-0 to Tunisia with a second team.
Les Bleus then saw off Poland 3–1 in the round of 16, with Mbappe scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament to lead the Golden Boot race by two margins.
Yorke added that England, under coach Gareth Southgate, have struggled to get past the heavyweights in the big tournaments.
”In the last six years under Gareth, who I know personally, they (England) had an opportunity to win big tournaments that they didn’t take,” said Yorke.
“And I feel like that will always be a burden for them. If we go into that, the pressure will be even greater because they were in the semifinals (losing 2-1 to Croatia at the 2018 World Cup). They were to the (Euro) finals (loss on penalties to Italy in 2020) so the quarter-finals, as you know, is what is expected of this England team.
“It’s a different kind of pressure to play against a real world-class team, the defending champions of the World Cup. They don’t come much bigger than that. And I feel like with that extra pressure I’m not so sure they’re going to be able to (win). .
“It would be amazing and I hope they can because England are obviously very close to my heart when it comes to being there for over 30 years. But I just think they always show up when they need that little X-factor in short.
“And I have a feeling that will be the case at game time.”
Dwight Yorke previews the World Cup Quarterfinals – brought to you by Sportsbet
Yorke, who now coaches A-League club Macarthur, said there was “20 times” more pressure and attention as a football manager in England than in Australia.
“Just a whole different level. Gareth has been at this job for six years,” Yorke said.
“So he has the experience, you understand what comes with that and he has to stay cool and collected in his decisions and not be fooled by what people or the outside media is saying.
“And I think that’s key for any type of manager, you can easily get caught up in the hype instead of staying in the moment. If you fail, you fail to do it your way, and if you go to succeed, ideally in the same way, you will not let others influence you.
“And I think that’s probably going to be key if he’s going to be successful.”
As well as trying to find a way to slow down Mbappe, Southgate had to absorb the setback when Raheem Sterling returned to London.
Sterling left Qatar after an armed robbery at his home to be with his family, but the Chelsea star will rejoin the squad on Friday ahead of the quarter-finals.
It’s unclear if Sterling will play France or not, but Yorke said it was an unwelcome distraction
“The coach, the players or the staff in the squad – that would bother them a bit,” Yorke said.
“Because they have something ahead of them that might be a life changing moment for them if they want to be successful and win the World Cup.
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“The reality is that when something personal like this happens, it affects you because it could have happened to anyone else on this team.
“Unfortunately it happened to Raheem and that might be a little distracting.
“But this is where the manager, the staff and the players come together and unite even further together and hopefully that will be the case.”
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