Declan Rice says England are “silencing the critics” and are a better team than Euro 2020, which the rest of the world is “starting to fear”.
The midfielder added that Gareth Southgate’s side had been “flawless”. Rice pointed out a number of perceived flaws in the team, from scoring to control of midfield in big games, and insisted England tick them all off now.
“We silence the critics,” he said after the impressive 3-0 victory over Senegal in the last 16 World Cups.
“That’s another one we’ve kept people quiet about. There was a lot of focus on defense and goals conceded, but it was solid. We keep building and pushing.”
Rice said England have evolved since last summer, especially with the introduction of Jude Bellingham in midfield.
“We performed so well as a team. We are really together now on the field and off the field. As a team we complement each other really well. The guys I play with in midfield really complement each other.
“The guys up front, he can bring in a striker and nothing changes. And the back four have been absolutely solid. We’re building a really nice base but it’s up to us now.
“There’s always been a lot of talk about our use of the ball against the big teams. I think we’ve been in control of pretty much every game in this tournament. We’ve had quite a lot of possession, we’ve moved it really well.
“The opening phase was very shaky because teams were really trying to stop us from playing. But once we reach that goal, they have to change. It opens up and then you really start to see us play.”
Rice feels England’s performance to date, having scored 12 goals in four games and conceded just two goals, has not received as much acclaim as other countries.
“I’ve been saying it all along, I don’t think we’re getting the credit we deserve in our performance.
“I think if you look at other teams, like the Netherlands and Argentina, they win their games comfortably and get masterclasses. With us it’s always picked. The negative things always come that way. If you look at the last few games, it was flawless.
“I think, as I said the other day, countries should be afraid of us now because we are a great team.”
Rice, for his part, stressed that all this will mean little if England does not beat France. He did say that the team had been watching their games – including before the game against Senegal – and noticed weaknesses.
“There’s no point whining tonight if we can’t push through and beat France. These are the games we want to play in. They only appear once: England vs France, quarter-final, it can’t get any bigger.
“We now have six days to prepare and I am sure the world will be watching. We really want to move forward.
“Against France we saw some weaknesses that we can try to exploit. It’s set up for a great game.”