Football fever grips London in lead up to crucial quarter final ties

England fans hope for an upset against France in Saturday evening's game

England fans during the match against Senegal. They will be hoping the team can overcome France on Saturday. Reuters
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London was in the grip of football fever on Saturday, as England fans hoped for an upset against France, while Moroccans gathered in Ladbroke Grove to cheer on their team against Portugal, in crucial quarter-final ties.

For England supporters, Kylian Mbappe was the man in many people’s minds as they looked ahead to the 7pm (UK time) kick-off.

“I think it’s going to be a really tight game either way. It’s not just going to be solely about Mbappe and Walker,” Michael Pike, 41, a strategy director who lives in London told The National.

“It’s going to be solely about how the whole of the England team copes with the threat of Mbappe.”

He said the game would be an interesting encounter between two “European heavyweights”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if England caused a bit of an upset. I think France go in as favourites. But England have a really good chance of overcoming them and getting a good result.”

Fellow London resident Milo McConaghy, 29, said it was the biggest match of his lifetime as an England supporter.

“In terms of a team and cohesiveness of them all, I think this is the best I have ever seen,” he told The National.

He said on paper Frank Lampard’s squad was better, but this one is more cohesive.

“I think this is the most likely England can succeed as everyone plays together and there is no one natural star in the team.

“So I think France come in as favourites, but I don’t see them actually winning the game today because I think they are all individuals and I spoke about the team. Football is a team sport. I think today is going to make the French shed a few tears.”

Yousef Osman, 27, an Egyptian student living in London was not so sure.

“I think it’s going to be a very tough game for England,” he said.

“France are a much better squad but England are on a high now. They have been playing well since the tournament started. But it’s France. They won the World Cup in 2018 and they are just a very good team. So I think France will go through but it will be very close. I would say like 2-1 to France.”

Nic, 27, who works as a software engineer, said it would be a competitive game. He was expecting England to start off defensively.

“I think if England concede early they will definitely lose. But if England can hold on, maybe score in the second half, they might have a chance,” he said.

Football fever also gripped Moroccan fans gathering in Ladbroke Grove in west London.

Crowds of people, mostly Moroccan as the area is popular with the community, gathered before their nation’s big game against Portugal.

Hundreds stood, many of them clutching or wrapped in flags, beneath a large screen on Golborne Road to watch the match.

Some climbed out of flats, perching on the terrace above shops before the 3pm kick off.

Updated: December 10, 2022, 5:03 PM