Kyle Walker plays down Kylian Mbappe task as England man names Liverpool hero as toughest opponent
Kyle Walker is adamant that France possess many more dangers than ‘just Kylian Mbappe’ but insists he will be fired up to limit his threat as England prepare to tackle the reigning champions in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Gareth Southgate’s side will put their World Cup aspirations to the ultimate test on Saturday against Didier Deschamps side. And while England are the tournament’s joint-top scorers with 12 goals, they will come up against a man regarded as the world’s best in Mbappe.
Indeed, the France talisman already has five goals to his name this tournament, including a sublime double to sink Poland in the last-16.
And England will have to be at their best if they are to snuff out Mbappe’s threat and reach the semi-finals.
In the build-up to the game, there have been suggestions that Mbappe may not actually be fit. However, truths over his fitness have quickly come to light to dampen any false England optimism.
As it goes, Walker is likely to be the man tasked with trying to halt Mbappe from exerting his authority. The two players are among the fastest players in world football and their battle is eagerly-anticipated.
Walker, though, is adamant that England will do all they can to neutralise his powers. Furthermore, he insists Deschamps’ side have many more threats that just the PSG man.
“I think the game’s not England vs Mbappe, it’s England vs France,” Walker told a press conference.
“We respect that he is a good player in good form, but I am not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to go and score.
Walker knows Kylian Mbappe is not only threat
“I’m representing my country at the quarter-final in a World Cup, it’s do or die really. If we lose, we go home. He’s not going to stand in my way of winning a World Cup for my country.”
Walker will be coming up against Mbappe for the fifth time in his career, during Man City v PSG games in the Champions League. City have won three of those four to date and Mbappe has found the net just once.
“When we’ve played in the four times against PSG for Man City in the Champions League, you’re not just thinking about Mbappe,” Walker added. “I think it is exactly the same on Saturday.
“He’s a tool in their armoury that is very good, but there are other good players and we can’t underestimate them. [They have] players that have won big titles, won World Cups.
“So OK, he [Mbappe] is a great player, we know that – that is why all of the questions are about him.
“But let’s not forget about Olivier Giroud, who has scored countless goals for France and in the Premier League. Ousmane Dembele, who for me is just as good on the other wing and a very tricky player. And then you have Antoine Griezmann – these players can cause you a problem.
“We take our hat off to him, he is a great player. But for me all of the questions shouldn’t be about him. We should appreciate that we are seeing a great footballer, but there are other players as well.”
Sadio Mane is star’s toughest opponent
After several seasons of playing in the Champions League and in major international tournaments, Walker has come up against the world’s best.
And after being asked to select his toughest opponent to date, the Man City star was quick to pick out former Liverpool star Sadio Mane.
“Technically I didn’t play against Mbappe [for Manchester City], one versus one it was more Neymar, who is a fantastic player,” the right-back added.
“I would probably say Sadio Mane just because he never gives you a moment’s rest on the ball. I’m not saying the other guys I mentioned don’t! But they probably don’t defend as much as Mane does and save their energy for when they are attacking.”
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