ᑕ❶ᑐ World Cup 2022: England v France – Kyle Walker ‘won’t walk the red carpet’ for Kylian Mbappe
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Kyle Walker says he won’t “roll out the red carpet” for Kylian Mbappe and will have more than just one player to worry about in England’s World Cup quarter-final against France.
England face France in the quarter-finals in Qatar on Saturday (19:00 GMT) in the first play-off match between the two countries at a major tournament.
Mbappe, 23, is the tournament’s top scorer with five goals in four games.
“I understand what I have to do, and it gets in the way,” Walker, 32, said.
“It’s easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself,” added the England right-back.
“He is a fantastic player in great form. It will not be an easy task, but as a professional footballer you want to play against the best and I think he is one of the best in the world, if not the best. Right now. »
Mbappe did not train with the rest of the France squad on Tuesday, instead having a recovery session, with France defender Ibrahima Konate saying there was “nothing to worry about”.
“We haven’t talked about it at all. He was just resting,” said the “Liverpool” defender.
“Walker and Mbappe are two great players. Walker is one of the best right backs in the world, I can’t wait to see this fight. »
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“No team is underdog or favorite”
Walker knows Mbappe well, having faced the PSG forward in two previous Champions League games against Manchester City.
City have won two and lost one of three meetings involving the two players – and Mbappe admitted it was difficult to face Walker.
Walker responded to the Frenchman’s comments: “It’s good to hear because he played a tough game against me. I know he’s the best player, but we don’t play tennis. It’s not a solo sport, it’s a team game.
“You have to respect him, but not too much. Yes, it will be a difficult match, but the team cannot be reduced to one person,” he added.
“I’m not going to roll out the red carpet for him and tell him to score. It’s a do-or-die World Cup. »
The Three Lions beat Senegal 3-0 in their last 16 match, while France also progressed smoothly with a 3-1 win over Poland.
Mbappe scored twice in France’s win and the forward has now been involved in his side’s last seven World Cup goals.
“When we faced Paris St-Germain in the Champions League, we weren’t just thinking about Mbappe and it’s the same on Saturday,” Walker said.
“Yes, it’s a tool in their arsenal – and a very good one at that – but you can’t underestimate their other players. »
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England have kept three clean sheets in a row – just short of the national record at World Cups achieved in 1966 and 1982.
At the other end of the pitch, the Three Lions have scored 12 goals in four games – equal to the most in a single World Cup.
Walker, who reached the last four in Russia 2018 and the finals of the European Championships in 2021, believes Gareth Southgate’s side are not favorites as they prepare to face the reigning champions.
“We’re playing the world champions, but we’re two good teams that will play each other,” Walker said.
“We have a lot of talent. In my eyes, no team is an outsider or favorite. »
Grealish says England like to “prove the doubters wrong”.
England midfielder Jack Grealish says the team is relishing “proving the doubters wrong” as they prepare for their biggest test against France.
After England’s 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16, midfielder Declan Rice said he didn’t think his side got the credit they deserved and agreed with Grealish’s team-mate.
“I don’t think we ever will [get enough recognition] but sometimes it’s good to be weak, but it’s good to be in a place where people don’t really trust you and you can keep proving them wrong,” the Manchester City striker told BBC Sport.
“When we played against the USA, when we didn’t score, people said things about us.
“But we’ve scored goals, kept clean sheets and controlled games, so we’ll go into the game. [France] a game full of confidence. »
Grealish, who reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, says this England side has a “special bond” with fans and believes Three Lions supporters now believe they were missing before.
“The fans think every game this team is going to win against whoever they play,” he said.
“There is no doubt about this game [against France] it will be the biggest test yet, but you will never make it to the World Cup final without playing your best.
“But we know that if we do everything right and play like we have, we can beat anybody today and I think we’ve proven that in the last few games. »
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