Raheem Sterling will rejoin England’s World Cup squad with the Three Lions continuing their preparation for what promises to be a massive quarter-final tie against France.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s name continues to dominate the headlines with his involvement for Portugal now likely reduced to a bench role ahead of the last eight match against Morocco.
Brazil kick off the quarter-finals on Friday when they face Croatia before Argentina take on the Netherlands in a tie dripping with history.
Follow the build-up to England vs France and the latest from Qatar below:
World Cup latest news
‘I always knew I’d find form’: Harry Maguire repays Gareth Southgate’s faith with exemplary World Cup displays
Spain confirm Enrique departure, with De La Fuente hired
France are not dependent on Kylian Mbappe for World Cup success, Adrien Rabiot claims
13:45 , Jack Rathborn
However, they also have the joint second-highest scorer in Olivier Giroud, with three, and Rabiot stressed they are not a one-man team.
“There is no dependency. It is our main weapon but we also have other players who can make a difference in other ways,” the Juventus midfielder said.
Virgil van Dijk says Netherlands are not focusing on just stopping Lionel Messi
13:30 , Jack Rathborn
Messi has, once again, proved Argentina’s inspiration in Qatar and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is aiming to cap his glittering career by guiding his side to success in next week’s final.
Yet defender Van Dijk knows Dutch hopes do not just rest on whether they can stop Paris Saint-Germain’s former Barcelona talisman.
The Liverpool centre-back said at a press conference: “He’s one of the best players of all time, obviously. He has done it for so many years.
‘I understand what I need to do’: Kyle Walker on World Cup battle with Kylian Mbappe
13:14 , Jack Rathborn
Most of the talk since the tie was confirmed has surrounded Kylian Mbappe and how England can stop a man who leads the golden boot race with his five goals in Qatar.
But Walker is not prepared for England to become theatre-goers as he backed Gareth Southgate’s men to show what they can do.
Jack Grealish: I want everyone to do well
13:00 , Jack Rathborn
Jack Grealish insists England’s squad get on like “brothers” and want each other to do well, even if it means sitting on the bench.
“I want to start, but when you are here together you can’t be moping around. You can’t be like a bad egg going ‘why aren’t I playing?’.
“Listen, I am at a World Cup, playing for my country. Whoever plays out of us attackers, we have all got each other’s back and want each other to do well. That’s the truth, from my heart. I want everyone to do well.
“I know when I get my chance I will do my best to take it, but if I don’t start then I want Bukayo (Saka) or Phil (Foden) or Rashy (Marcus Rashford) or whoever it is to do well because we are all in this together.
“We might be rivals sometimes on a Saturday, but we all get on well, like brothers, and that is what keeps us ticking along.”
Luis Enrique leaves Spain as head coach with Luis de la Fuente appointed as successor
12:45 , Jack Rathborn
Luis Enrique has split with Spain as the country’s head coach with Luis de la Fuente appointed as his successor following a disastrous World Cup 2022 exit.
The Spanish football association confirmed the departure on Thursday after La Furia Roja’s elimination in the round of 16 to Morocco in a 3-0 penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regular and extra time.
How have England’s players rated at the World Cup so far?
12:30 , Jack Rathborn
Key to that will be Saturday’s crunch clash with defending champions France in the last eight, with Kylian Mbappe set to provide England their biggest test of the World Cup so far after his five goals in four games.
Amid a chaotic group stage in Qatar, England’s progress to a last-16 meeting with Senegal was relatively straightforward. Despite being booed off following a 0-0 draw with the USA, England topped Group B thanks to convincing victories over Iran and Wales. From there, England overcame an uncertain start to sweep Senegal aside and book their place in the quarter-finals.
12:15 , Jack Rathborn
Jack Grealish has called for Jordan Henderson to receive “respect” after impressing for England at the World Cup.
“It’s weird because I feel like sometimes he gets a lot of stick, maybe not criticism, but a bit of doubt and I’m like ‘this guy has won the Premier League, the Champions League and has got us to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final – give him some respect,’” Grealish says.
“That’s what I like about Hendo, when he is doubted a little bit he responds in the perfect way. I think he’s one of those characters that the more he gets doubted the more he wants to prove people wrong.
“He’s a brilliant professional, trains every day like it is his last. He’s one of those characters who, no matter what, you need in your squad.”
Everything wrong with the Qatar World Cup
12:00 , Jack Rathborn
ut of the many facts and figures circulated about Qatar’s problems, there is one realisation that should stand above everything. It is a disgrace that, in 2022, a country can host a World Cup where it has lured millions of people from the poorest countries on earth - often under false pretences - and then forced them into what many call “modern slavery”.
And yet this has just been accepted. The World Cup carries on, an end product of a structure that is at once Orwellian and Kafkaesque. A huge underclass of people work in an autocratic surveillance state, amid an interconnected network of issues that make it almost impossible to escape. “It’s all so embedded,” says Michael Page of Human Rights Watch.
Qatar World Cup: Fifa accused of being ‘complicit’ in ‘human rights travesty’
11:45 , Jack Rathborn
The family of jailed World Cup whistleblower Abdullah Ibhais has accused Fifa and president Gianni Infantino of “callous indifference” and being “complicit” in a “human rights travesty”, which is “tearing apart” his young family.
“We refuse to back down,” a statement read. “We call upon the Qatari authorities for Abdullah’s immediate release, and ask all human rights organisations, journalists, activists, players and the audience of the World Cup to raise their voices and call for Freedom for Abdullah.”
Ibhais’s case was referred on Wednesday to a team of UN human rights experts, which the family hope will result in an official statement that his case constitutes an arbitrary detention.
This is some World Cup Cristiano Ronaldo is having and it’s not over yet
11:30 , Jack Rathborn
This is some World Cup that Cristiano Ronaldo is having. Forget for a moment the self-immolation of that Piers Morgan interview, which torched his legacy at Manchester United and appears to have ended his career at the elite level of European football too.
Instead focus only what has taken place just since the start of this tournament. There’s still plenty to go at.
Since winning and converting a highly questionable penalty in Portugal‘s opening game, he has claimed to score a goal he did not touch, set up another for the opposition by cowering at a set-piece, flounced off the pitch in a barrage, and, as a result of that outburst, he has now been dropped from the starting line-up - a decision that heralded a statement 6-1 victory and arguably the best team performance seen in Qatar.
The battle that will decide England vs France in World Cup quarter-final
11:22 , Jack Rathborn
Jack Grealish: England have special bond with fans
11:15 , Jack Rathborn
Jack Grealish insists England now have a “special bond” with the fans ahead of the World Cup quarter-final.
“The pundits and press will always have something negative to say about us, no matter what we do, but we have created a special bond with the fans – during the last Euros and the World Cup in 2018. I feel they believe in us now.
“They are going into each game thinking this team can win, whoever we play against. No doubt this game will be our biggest test yet, but you are never going to get to a World Cup final without playing the best and we are fully looking forward to it.”
Ibrahima Konate: Kylian Mbappe just resting before England match
11:00 , Jack Rathborn
Ibrahima Konate has moved to allay any doubts over Kylian Mbappe’s involvement in the World Cup quarter-final against England.
The PSG superstar missed training on Wednesday, but the Liverpool defender insists Les Bleus’ talisman will be ready.
“We haven’t really spoken about it at all. He was just resting,” Konate said.
“It was a little recovery session - the day before we had a day off. I think he decided to stay indoors with the coach, there is nothing to worry about.”
‘It annoys us’: Luke Shaw on England team leaks
10:45 , Jack Rathborn
“For some reason, our team is out every game day before anything, so I’m sure everyone is going to find out like normal. It seems to get leaked every time we play.
“Of course it annoys us when that happens. You can guess some players that are going to play, but sometimes if people get changed and it is out there before the team actually gets announced it can give the opposing team an advantage.
“That is something we all speak about. We don’t understand why the English media would leak that to give other teams an advantage.
“There is nothing we can do about it because it has been happening for a long time, but we’ve got a couple more days to focus more on details about what France are going to do and we’ll go from there.”
This is the side of the World Cup that Qatar would prefer you ignore
10:30 , Jack Rathborn
t is one of the regular moments of harsh reality that takes you out of the illusion that is this World Cup. As the taxi driver drops the group off, there is a sudden plea. It is not for a five-star rating.
“Can you give me a tip please?”, he asks. “I have no money to eat.”
The driver, of south Asian descent, sends almost everything he earns back to his family. This is supposed to be the long-awaited period when such workers can generate income due to the number of visitors to Qatar but here is another who is just starving.
Cristiano Ronaldo role at World Cup ‘to be defined’, Portugal coach reveals
10:20 , Jack Rathborn
Cristiano Ronaldo’s role for the remainder of the World Cup is something that has to be “defined”, Portugal boss Fernando Santos said after dropping his captain for their emphatic last-16 win over Switzerland.
The 37-year-old was only named on the bench as Benfica forward Goncalo Ramos – who hit a hat-trick on his full debut to secure a comfortable 6-1 victory and set up a quarter-final clash with Morocco.
‘I always knew I’d find form’: Harry Maguire repays Gareth Southgate’s faith with exemplary World Cup displays
10:16 , Jack Rathborn
To ward off the monotony that can build between games during the long weeks away at a major tournament, England’s players have been passing the time by trying their hand at Werewolf.
A murder strategy game based on lies and deception, those chosen as “wolves” have to kill off as many “villagers” as possible while the villagers have to detect and identify the wolves. One member of the squad has stood head and shoulders above the rest, revealing himself as something of a super sleuth. “I’m quite good at psychology, to be honest,” admits Harry Maguire. “I’ve needed to be over the last year or so.”
While Maguire puts his Werewolf prowess partly down to an analytical mind, it is mostly due to past experience. “I’ve played it before as well, I must say. When I was at Leicester, we played the game a lot and the more you play the game the more you see. You get to look at what people are doing, how they’re acting.”
This World Cup has shown us the most important positon in football
10:06 , Jack Rathborn
The way Gregg Berhalter put it: “We lacked that offensive finishing quality.” As the United States tumbled out of the World Cup, it may have been a more diplomatic, distinctly American way of saying his side needed a striker.
They are not alone in that but Berhalter tried three in four games, attempted an interlude with a false nine, and got a solitary goal from a centre-forward: Haji Wright’s fluke of a finish against the Netherlands. “We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now,” the USA manager concluded.
BREAKING: Raheem Sterling to return to England’s World Cup squad after burglary
09:55 , Jack Rathborn
The 27-year-old forward did not feature in Sunday’s last-16 win against Senegal due to concern over his family’s wellbeing after the break-in that left his partner Paige and their three children badly shaken.
Sterling returned to the UK but is now willing to travel back to Qatar, with additional security measures being worked through to assure his family’s safety.
The FA confirmed: “Raheem Sterling will return to England’s World Cup base in Qatar.
“The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad in Al Wakrah on Friday (9 December) ahead of the quarter-final with France.”
World Cup: The best moments so far from Messi magic and shock upsets to group stage drama
09:45 , Jack Rathborn
And breathe. After 17 days of non-stop football, the World Cup pauses ahead of the quarter-finals in Qatar. Amid controversy and continued human rights concerns surrounding the host country off the pitch, it’s been an exhilarating ride so far on it, with shocks galore and a number of thrilling matches to light up the tournament.
The group stages may be remembered as the most unpredictable ever seen at a World Cup, with Saudi Arabia shocking Argentina, Japan stunning Germany and then Spain, and Tunisia beating the defending champions France. Several of the groups went down to the final day, and in some cases final minutes, setting up a diverse last-16 line-up.
There have been moments of inspiration from star players, including Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, as well as sublime team goals scored by the Netherlands and Brazil. England have also impressed and are the tournament’s top scorers heading into the quarter-finals, with Gareth Southgate’s side facing France on Saturday.
Morocco produced the result of the last-16 as they upset Spain on penalties, and will look to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup when they take on Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo has already made history by becoming the first man to score in five World Cups, while Argentina look to be on a collision course with Brazil in what is Messi’s final World Cup.
Here are some of the best moments of the World Cup so far, as nominated by The Independent’s writers.
Enjoying the Qatar World Cup? Here is the reality hiding in plain sight
09:36 , Jack Rathborn
“Consultations and reports in Qatar reveal that racial and ethnic stereotypes operate in both the public and private spheres, according to which, for example, sub-Saharan African men are presumed to be unsanitary, sub-Saharan African women are presumed to be sexually available, and certain South Asian nationalities are presumed unintelligent.
“The Special Rapporteur received credible reports that, on the other hand, North Americans, Europeans and Australians are presumed superior, and whites in general are presumed to be inherently competent in various contexts, such as hiring and promotion decisions.”