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Millions of people expected to watch England take on France in World Cup quarter-final

Millions of people are expected to watch on TV as England take on France in a World Cup quarter-final tonight.

The two giants of European football will meet at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium, with the winner going on to face Morocco or Portugal in a semi-final on 14 December.

The British Beer and Pub Association hopes the 7pm kick-off time in the UK will mean a bumper night, predicting a £26m boost to the industry.

Extra police will be in London to keep an eye on the English and French football fans expected to flock to the city, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to watch the game from Chequers.

Over in Qatar, England manager Gareth Southgate said the squad must be “the very best version” of themselves if they are to beat reigning World Cup champions, France.

England’s run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup in 2018 and their appearance in the Euros final last summer will help, he said, adding: “In terms of our experiences, I think those big matches for the team are important reference points.

“They’ve had to come through many different ways of winning games, some defeats that have hurt but that we’ve learned a lot from and I think they prepare you for nights like tomorrow where you have got to produce the very best version of yourselves.

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“The mentality is key really.

“The belief that we deserve to be there and we are ready to fight France for that place in the semi-final.”

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The first two quarter-finals took place on Friday, with Croatia beating Brazil and Argentina beating the Netherlands, with the other game – between Portugal and Morocco – being played this afternoon.

England will be boosted by the return of Raheem Sterling, who is back with the team following an emergency trip back to the UK.

Sterling had wanted to be with his family after their Surrey home was burgled just before England’s match against Senegal.

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Southgate said the extent of Sterling’s involvement against France was yet to be decided, adding: “We’ll just have to assess that, but we’re really pleased he’s back”.

England captain Harry Kane said: “We’re not here just to reach the quarter-final, let’s put it that way.

“We know there are some very good teams in this tournament, we also know that we’re a very good team as well, so if we did lose tomorrow we’d be as disappointed as anyone.”

Andrew Whittaker, 30, a claims and cost consultant who lives in Doha by way of Liverpool, said: “I think they will do well against France, I’ve got a funny feeling.

“It’s the first test.

England's Raheem Sterling during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex in Al Wakrah, Qatar. Picture date: Friday December 9, 2022.
Image:
Raheem Sterling is back with the England team

“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.”

But France supporter Julien Abbassi, from Paris, said: “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.”

Mr Abbassi, 40, was spotted in Doha wearing a hat with a plastic baguette attached to it, and said: “For example, (French striker Olivier) Giroud played in England, (French forward Kylian) Mbappe already faced (England star) Kyle Walker, so I think we’re ready for this game, I’m confident.”

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