England defender Kyle Walker says France star Kylian Mbappe “will not stop me from winning the World Cup” as the pair prepare for their quarter-final clash on Saturday.
The Three Lions take on the reigning world champions for the last eight months this weekend, with a Les Bleus side led by Mbappe, who also leads the Golden Boot charts with five goals in four games.
Pacy full-back Walker has been identified as England’s main weapon against the threat of Mbappe and while the 32-year-old says he won’t “roll out the red carpet” for the players, the rest of the French team will have to deal with it on Saturday. .
“I think the game is not England vs Mbappe, it’s England vs France,” Walker told reporters on Wednesday.
“We respect that he’s a good actor and a good player, but I’m not going to take him out on the red carpet and tell him to go score.
“I’m representing my country in the quarter-final in the World Cup, it’s do or die really. If we lose, we go home. They won’t stand in my way of winning the World Cup for my country.”
‘Don’t forget Giroud, Dembele and Griezmann’
Walker has faced Mbappe four times during his career, as his Manchester City side took on French side Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
City have won three of their four matches, with Mbappe scoring just once – the same goal in their last game as the Premier League side won 2-1.
“When we play four times against PSG at Man City in the Champions League, you don’t think about Mbappe,” added Walker. “I think it’s the same on Saturday.
“It is a tool in their arsenal which is very good, but there are other good players and we cannot underestimate them. [They have] players who won major titles, won the World Cup.
“Okay, him [Mbappe] he’s a great player, we know – that’s why all the questions are about him.
“But let’s not forget Olivier Giroud, who has scored countless goals in France and in the Premier League. Ousmane Dembele, who for me is the best on the other wing and a very tricky player. Then you have Antoine Griezmann – these players can cause you problems.
“We take our hat off to him, he is a great footballer. But for me all the questions should not be about him. We have to appreciate that we are seeing good footballers, but there are other players too.”
Asked if he understood why there was so much confusion about the fight, Walker said: “Of course, I play football. I understand what I have to do and it’s obvious that I’m going to stop him. It’s probably easier said than done. .
“But I don’t underestimate myself. As I said before, I have played before and I met great players when I played in England, Man City and the clubs I played for.
“I have to see it as another game, I have to be very careful and give him the respect he deserves, but not too much respect because he is also playing in England and we can cause him problems.
“It will be a tough game, but no one player can make the team.”
Experts on Walker vs Mbappe battle:
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“I’m sure Kyle will stay at right back. This looks like a collision waiting to happen, doesn’t it?
“Mbappe vs Walker, it seems that we have a very good defender to deal with Mbappe. If someone can deal with him with his body, speed and experience.”
Sky Sports’ Alan Smith:
“We will all be watching the Mbappe-Kyle Walker match.
“It was interesting to listen to Matty Cash playing in Poland. He said that he watched videos and everything, but when he arrived, if he was strong, he would spin and if he stopped, he would run. But then he took the ball from the box, put it over the top right and left.
“He [Mbappe] it is in interesting shape. I think he is the best player in the world at the moment, so you have to do well. “
Poland defender Matty Cash, who put Mbappe in the World Cup last-16:
“He is amazing, obviously unbelievable, maybe my toughest opponent. I would have said before that Raheem Sterling was my toughest opponent. Sterling is fast but I think Mbappe is electric. He is very fast.
“He is on a different level. I play in the Premier League week in, week out, and I play with the best players, but he will be the best player in the world. The pace, the movement, look at his finishing. He has it all, he put two in the corner above, one on the left and one on the right.
“I didn’t know whether to go down or go hard. When I go hard, he just jumps back. When he gets the ball, he stops and moves, he’s very quick. he moves, he’s very good.
“Their style of play is to take the ball to the wingers and when it’s one-v-one you have to try to stop him. I did everything I could, when it was one-v-one I thought I did it. OK to play against him. I had a few games with him and I did well. Look at him on your shoulder and there it is.
“He didn’t send me off even once. There were times when he found space on the counter-attack, where he scored the second goal and that was the game changer, when he went 2-0 up. That’s when it hurts. Teams, they are probably among the top two or three players in the world one minute.
“Kyle Walker is as fast as Mbappe. He is the best defender in England and he knows more than me. I don’t have to tell him anything. So if anyone can stop Mbappe, Kyle Walker is the man. Fast and.”