France awaits 'explosive & tempting' quarter-final


France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring their third goal. REUTERS/Lee Smith

Dec. 5: Explosive, tempting, shocking - the French newspapers have gone heavy on the adjectives as they await a World Cup quarter-final against England.

Their excitement is warranted as the two sides meet on Saturday at 19:00 GMT on top form, fresh from convincing wins in the last 16.

England boosted fans' hopes of becoming world champions for the first time since 1966 with a 3-0 win over Senegal, while Kylian Mbappe starred as France beat Poland 3-1.

Here is a look at how both sides have been getting on - and what the French public is expecting from the Three Lions.

'God Save OUR King'

The front page of L'Equipe reads 'God Save OUR King', praising 23-year-old Mbappe after his two goals against Poland.

Mbappe had refused to talk to the media before the last-16 game so that he could fully focus on the game and the newspaper Le Monde describes him as a "silent saviour".

The paper has gone high-brow with its speculation over gameplans for the last eight, paraphrasing an 18th Century military quote - changing "Englishmen, you shoot first" to "Englishmen, you defend first".

It was the newspaper Le Figaro which described the quarter-final as "shocking" and "as explosive as it is tempting", adding that anyone who believed France's path in the World Cup had been easy "may change their minds next Saturday".

Eurosport in France points out that "the stakes have never been so high" for a France-England match, given the two sides have never faced each other in the knockout stages of a men's major competition.

Regional paper Sud Ouest keeps things more simple. "Ready to eat some lion," the front page reads.

History and World Cup so far

As mentioned, this is the first men's knockout game between England and France.

The two sides last faced each other in 2017, when France's pacey attack was too much for England and the hosts won 3-2 in Paris.

Mbappe has been central to Les Bleus' success and leads the race for the Golden Boot with five of France's nine goals - the next best scorers are all on three.

In the group stage, France started with a 4-1 win over Australia, then beat Denmark 2-1, before a shock 1-0 defeat by Tunisia.

England began with a promising 6-2 win against Iran, before the reality check of a 0-0 draw with the United States - finally capping off the group stage with a 3-0 victory over Wales.

Midfielder Jude Bellingham has drawn the most praise from England's players, with L'Equipe conceding the 19-year-old has the skill to combat France's Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann.

Bellingham and England will face their biggest test yet at this World Cup on Saturday and the view from France suggests they are prepared for their toughest challenge too.

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