Kyle Walker has vowed to stop Kylian Mbappe as his boss Gareth Southgate faces an uncertain future ahead of the crunch quarterfinal clash against France.
England is preparing to trade tackles with France in a crunch 2022 World Cup quarterfinals tie.
The Three Lions qualified for the knockout of the tournament as the best team in the group stage but will face a tough test against 2018 champions – France, who have left no stone unturned in their bid to defend the title they won four years ago in Russia.
If there is a threat so potent for the England defenders is PSG’s deadly forward Kylian Mbappe, who is the highest goal-scorer in the competition with five goals.
Manchester City right-back and sprint king Kyle Walker has vowed to stop the French flier from overrunning the Three Lions’ backline going into the game.
In line with that, Kyle Walker marking out Kylian Mbappe in the game is a do-or-die affair, and he will not roll out a red carpet for the PSG forward to find the back of the net.
“I’m not going to roll out the red carpet for him and tell him to go and score. It’s do or die,” Kyle Walker said while speaking in the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe has lauded the pedigree and skills of Walker, admitting he is one of the few players that can hold him back.
“He is one of the rare players who make me suffer,” he said.
However, while the exchange between the two players can be said to be playful banter, it is still unclear whether Walker can actually put the brakes on the Paris Saint-Germain superstar, who has already scored five goals in Qatar.
Kylian Mbappe has a top sprint speed of 23.48mph which is a bit ahead of that of Walker which is 23.50mph.
The pair’s duel has become the focal point of a potentially epic quarter-final clash at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
Kyle had insisted that the “game is not England v Mbappe. The game is England v France”. He noted that England can eliminate France. Therefore, Mbappe will not stand in his way of hopefully winning a World Cup for England.
Walker added: “Do I understand the focus on Mbappe? Of course I do.
“I understand what I need to do and that’s obviously to stop him.
“It’s probably easier said than done but I don’t underestimate myself. I’ve played him before, and I’ve come up against great players with England, Man City, and other clubs.
Kyle Walker and Kylian Mbappe are both 5ft 10in tall, and have faced each other four times in the past while playing for their clubs in the Champions League and a friendly. The results are level at two wins each.
Mbappe has only scored once playing against Kyle — and that was in a 2-1 defeat in November. Statistics show Walker has been dribbled past just three times in his last 24 England games.
Meanwhile, the future of Gareth Southgate as England’s manager after the France game is uncertain, according to Daily Mail.
The Three Lions boss has been in charge since October 2016 and is England’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey.
Southgate has guided England to a semi-final and final in his two major tournament campaigns and has set up a quarter-final clash with France on Saturday.
The report by Daily Mail confirms that the FA wants Southgate to continue managing England regardless of the result against France.
Southgate, 52, is under contract until Euro 2024, but his future is not clear.
The FA want him to oversee that European Championship campaign, but the former Middlesbrough boss could step down after the World Cup.
The 2018 World Cup semifinalist is believed to be open to a return to club management, while the FA is hoping to convince him to stay on.
The two parties are reportedly set to discuss his future in a post-World Cup debrief.
Reports say the FA does not have a succession plan if Southgate leaves the Three Lions after the World Cup, which is another factor behind their desire for him to continue.
However, the English football’s governing body will not stand in his way if he decides he is ready for a new challenge.
Southgate has been linked to Fulham and Nottingham Forest if he does decide to leave his England post, with Chelsea boss Graham Potter and Newcastle’s Eddie Howe tipped as potential favorites to take over.