Football

World Cup 2022: Walker can shut out Mbappe in quarter-final meeting

Kylian Mbappe is leading the World Cup goalscoring charts with five strikes to his name. England will have to keep the 23-year-old quiet in their quarter-final clash and Kyle Walker believes he is the man to do it.

Kyle Walker Kylian Mbappe

The Three Lions will have their hands full with Mbappe who gave his best performance in Qatar in the previous round. Not only did he get Olivier Giroud on the scoreboard to become France’s all-time top goalscorer, but also finished with a brace of his own. 

Gareth Southgate has a quality-laden squad but handling the special talent will not be everyone’s cup of tea. If any player can do it, it will be wing-back, Kyle Walker. 

England’s oldest squad member at Qatar has butted heads plenty of time with the French starlet and is aware of his capacity for destruction. While playing for Manchester City, Walker has played against Mbappe four times in the Champions League, holding his own in the duels. 

Ahead of the clash, Walker praised the Pairs native for his abilities and proclaimed he is aware of the task. Silencing Mbappe in their quarter-final meeting will be a stiff task and admitted it is easier said than done. However, the veteran defender believes he will rise to the occasion and do what is necessary to give them a fighting chance.

“I do understand what I need to do and that is to stop him,” Walker commented. “It is easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself. I have played against some great players at Man City and England, I treat it as another game, I take extra care and give him the respect he deserves, but not too much respect.”

“Obviously it is always going to help because I’ve played against him a number of times now with Manchester City,” Walker added.

“He is a fantastic player in great form. It is not going to 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 if not the best in the world at the moment.”

Change the system to tame Les Bleus

Didier Deschamps brought back Karim Benzema to the French squad but the Real Madrid attacker is out of contention due to injury. While still having plenty of talent to call upon, he will probably go ahead with his tried and tested partnership of Giroud, Mbappe and Griezmann (Antoinne).

The Three Lions have opted for four at the back but this can change given their rivals. It might be a forced change given the familiarity of the trio and their devastating effectiveness together.  it has been suggested that England will revert to a three-man defence. 

While not detailing their defensive plans for the December 10 meeting, the City defender shared he is versatile enough to play in any system employed by Southgate for the knockout fixture. 

“I don’t really bomb forward as much as I used to playing for Tottenham as a wing-back, it is about reading the game, the opponent, the formation the manager wants you to play in and adapting to that,” Walker said. “I will do whatever the manager asks in terms of benefiting the team.”

About the author

Owais Khan

Profiling the beautiful game for over a decade, Awais is a business analyst turned sports writer. He has covered football in the maidans of Pakistan and has transitioned to watching 1860 Munich in 3. Liga.