Families divided by football allegiances are preparing for England’s blockbuster World Cup quarter-final against France on Saturday, with boastful Kylian Mbappe emails adding intrigue to the spectacle.

The winner of the game between Gareth Southgate’s side and Didier Deschamps’ 2018 winners will go into the semi-finals in Qatar with every chance of lifting the 18-carat solid gold trophy.

The contest on the pitch will not be the only clash, with some families preparing for the “light-hearted rivalry” that only comes with divided national loyalties.

Tom Thewlis, 30, from Oxford, has been enjoying some email-based stick from his French uncle, who believes the daunting prospect of France’s Kylian Mbappe – the tournament’s top scorer – will prove too much for England right-back Kyle Walker.

“My uncle is a bit of a joker. He’s always kind of put the boot in, particularly when we were knocked out in the semis in Russia (2018),” Mr Thewlis, a cycling journalist, told PA.

“He’s already been emailing me this week talking to me about how Kylian Mbappe’s going to have the last laugh over Kyle Walker, all that kind of thing, and just sort of a general exchange of banter.

“I’m a big cyclist myself. So, I’ve kind of always had the bragging rights that we’ve won the Tour de France more times than they have in however many years – I mean, that’s kind of like a running joke in our family that I’ve got over him.

“Now there’s obviously the rugby, France have had the upper hand with us on a few occasions, and then all of a sudden this.”

Mr Thewlis – who goes to see his French family every year – described the banter as a “light-hearted rivalry” and said it adds a bit of extra meaning to a game which he is “quietly confident” about.

“It makes what to some people could just be a game against France a bit more than that,” he said.

“I think on this occasion he’ll wait until afterwards and then when I see him next year, if France were to win on Saturday, next summer when I get over there he won’t let me hear the end of it, put it that way.

“I’m quietly confident, I’ve got a funny feeling about it – there’s just something about this group, a young group of players that seem to not take themselves too seriously.

"There’s a lot of belief there.”



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