England and France fans eye World Cup glory as quarter-final tie looms

England and France fans both say they are feeling confident of glory as they prepare for the World Cup quarter-final showdown.

The two giants of European football will meet at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday evening, with Morocco or Portugal facing the winner in the semi-finals on December 14.

Thousands of England fans will cheer on the Three Lions in Al Khor and millions more back home are expected to watch on TV, with pubs and bars readying themselves for another bumper evening.

A France fan wearing a baguette hat
France supporter Julien Abbassi, from Paris, displaying his France flag and baguette hat (Richard Wheeler/PA)

England will be hoping to land an early blow on Saturday morning when their supporters’ team play a seven-a-side game against their French counterparts.

France supporter Julien Abbassi, from Paris, was spotted in Doha wearing a hat with a plastic baguette attached to it.

He said he felt confident ahead of the quarter-final tie and showed off his France flag containing three stars – two for the World Cups that Les Bleus have already won, and one in anticipation of victory in Qatar.

The 40-year-old, who runs his own company, told the PA news agency: “Every World Cup, I’ve done three already, I like to have a new kind of costume every time, so I’ve got the baguette and I’ve got this third star already.”

Asked for his prediction for Saturday, Mr Abbassi joked: “You want my reason or my heart?

“My real feeling is I definitely respect England because you’ve got a good squad, score a lot of goals, but I think we are a good team, we’ve got experience, our coach knows how to deal with this kind of squad.

“For example, (Olivier) Giroud played in England, (Kylian) Mbappe already faced Kyle Walker, so I think we’re ready for this game, I’m confident.”

World Cup artwork
World Cup artwork on display at the Katara Cultural Village in Doha (Richard Wheeler/PA)

Mr Abbassi said there will be a “little pressure” on France given it is a World Cup quarter-final, adding: “But we’ve got experience.

“(Didier) Deschamps, our coach, won as a player, won as a coach, so he knows how to handle the group, and I think that’s the key to win a World Cup.”

Mr Abbassi suggested it could be “easier” for France given their experience, adding on England: “For you guys, you reach semi-final, the final but then there’s always this fear of penalties, of ‘we’ve got a good generation but maybe they’re not going to reach the final’.”

Andrew Whittaker, 30, who lives in Doha by way of Liverpool, said he has a “funny feeling” of an England win.

The claims and cost consultant told PA: “I think they will do well against France, I’ve got a funny feeling.

“It’s the first test. They’ve always played lesser teams and done well and when it’s come to the big game they’ve always fallen a bit short.

“So hopefully this time around it’s third time lucky.”

Mr Whittaker described Mbappe as “unbelievable”, adding: “I was thinking (Karim) Benzema being injured might help us but Giroud is still banging them in.”

Land buyer Elliot Carty, 28, from Bristol, said England have started to “show their quality” in the games against Wales and Senegal.

He added: “I think a lot of people were a bit worried about France but I’m not worried.

“They’ve got Mbappe, that’s their one star man, but if you look at the other areas, our team is stronger.”

Mr Carty, who returned home ahead of the quarter-finals but has flights booked to fly out for the final, said he expects a “tight” game but predicted an England win.

The England Supporters’ Travel Club received 2,005 applications for quarter-final tickets out of an allocation of 3,509 ahead of the tournament, according to the FA.

Supporter numbers have been bolstered by people already living in the region while others have stayed in Dubai and used shuttle flights on match days.

There were reports of France supporters boycotting the World Cup due to concerns over Qatar’s record on human rights, although the country’s ambassador to Doha insisted 10,000 fans registered for visas ahead of the tournament.

France Press Conference – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Main Media Centre – Friday 9th December
France manager Didier Deschamps (Martin Rickett/PA)

Elsewhere, France coach Didier Deschamps hailed Gareth Southgate and said the Three Lions chief is underappreciated in England.

Deschamps told reporters: “Not everyone appreciates him so much in his own country, that isn’t because he wasn’t a good footballer himself – he had a long and distinguished career and he is also a very good coach.

“He has enabled England to get some very good results over the years and I very much like him.”