England defender Kyle Walker says French star Kylian Mbappe is “not getting in my way of winning the World Cup” as he prepares for a battle of pace in Saturday’s quarter-finals. said.
Mbappe, who has scored five goals in four games and is on track to win the Golden Boot, returned to full training with France on Wednesday after a recovery session away from the side on Tuesday.
Walker has been branded as England’s antidote to Mbappe’s attacking threats, and the 32-year-old says he won’t be “laying the red carpet” for the forward.
“I think it’s England v France, not England v Mbappe,” Walker said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We respect him for being a good player in good shape, but I’m not going to roll the red carpet for him and tell him to go and score.
“I’m representing my country in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Really, it’s death or death. If I lose, I’ll go home. He won’t stand in the way of my country winning the World Cup.” ”
“Don’t forget Giroud, Dembele and Griezmann”
Walker faced Mbappe four times in his career when the Manchester City side faced Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
City won 3 of their 4 games and Mbappe scored just once. Premier League he equalized in a recent match where the champions won him 2-1.
“When we play against Man City’s PSG four times in the Champions League, it’s not just about Mbappe,” added Walker. “I think Saturday will be exactly the same.
“He’s a very good arsenal of tools, but there are other great players out there and they can’t be underestimated. [They have] Players with big titles have won the World Cup.
“Okay he [Mbappe] We know he’s a great player.
“But let’s not forget Olivier Giroud, who scored countless goals in France and in the Premier League. Ousmane Dembélé is equally good on the other wing for me and a very tricky player. And then there’s Antoine Griezmann, a player that can cause problems.
“We take our hats off to him. He’s a great player. But for me, not all the questions should be about him. I have to be grateful to have met a great footballer.” But there are other players, too.”
Asked if he understood why the individual competition was hyped, Walker said: “Of course I play football. I know what I need to do and That’s obviously stopping him, perhaps easier said than done.
“But I don’t underestimate myself. Like I said before, I’ve played with him before and I’ve played for England, Man City and the clubs I’ve played for. During my time there, I played against great players.
“I have to treat it as a different match. I have to take special care and give him the respect he deserves. But he also plays in England and we will cause him problems.” It’s possible, so you don’t have to pay too much respect.It’s going to be a tough game.But one player doesn’t make a team.”
Walker: Mane may be your toughest opponent
Asked who was the toughest opponent he has ever faced, Walker cited former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane’s work rate in and out of possession.
“Technically I didn’t play 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.”
Experts on the Walker vs Mbappe battle:
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“I’m sure Kyle will stay in at right-back. That seems like a collision course waiting to happen, doesn’t it?
“Mbappe vs Walker, it seems like we have the perfect defender to deal with Mbappe. If anyone can deal with him and his physicality, pace and experience.”
Sky Sports’ Alan Smith:
“We’ll all be looking at that Mbappe-Kyle Walker match up.
“It was fascinating listening to Matty Cash playing for Poland. He said he looked at the videos and everything, but when it came down to it, if he got tight, he’d spin it and if he stood off, he’d race past him. But then he gets the ball in the box. and he puts it top-right and top-left.
“He [Mbappe] Very nice shape. I think he’s the best player in the world at the moment, so he needs a little luck.”
Polish defender Matty Cash, who marked Mbappe in the last 16 rounds of the World Cup:
“He’s amazing, obviously incredible and probably my toughest opponent. I’ve said before that Raheem Sterling is my toughest opponent. Sterling is fast, Mbappe is electric. I think.
“He’s on a different level. I play every week in the Premier League and I play against top-class wingers, but he could easily be the best player in the world. Look at his speed, his movement, his finish. Please… he has everything. He put two in the top corner, one on the left and one on the right.
“I wasn’t sure whether to drop off or go tight. When it got tight, he just spun backwards. He dropped his shoulders, went short, then went long.
”Their game plan is to get the ball to the winger and when it’s one-on-one you have to try to stop him. I raced him a few times and he was fine. Look over your shoulder and he’s there.
“He never ran me. There was a time when he got space on the counterattack and that’s where he scored the second goal and that’s the game changer and they’re 2-0. He’s probably among the top two or three players in the world at the moment.
“Kyle Walker is as fast as Mbappe. He’s England’s best right-back and has a lot more experience than I do. You don’t need to tell him anything. Someone stop Mbappe. If so, Kyle Walker is that guy. He’s fast.”