England assistant manager Steve Holland says France star Kylian Mbappe is one of the few players who needs “special attention”.
Mbappe missed France’s opening game on Tuesday – just four days after their World Cup quarter-final against England.
The PSG player, who is the top scorer in the game with five goals, faced another phase of recovery.
But the 23-year-old is causing headaches in England, whose assistant helped him devise a plan to silence Lionel Messi when Chelsea stunned Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League in 2012.
“I think there are a few players in the world that you have to give special consideration to,” Holland said. “Messi has been one and maybe still is.
“You have to put Mbappe in the category I would say.
“We have to look at trying to avoid putting ourselves in situations where he is destructive as we have all seen. We have to try to find a way to avoid that.
“I remember talking to (Jose) Mourinho about this a long time when he was with Real Madrid, he played with Barcelona and he had (Cristiano) Ronaldo.
“(Dani) Alves would be at Barcelona’s right back and he was flying forward, he could play a defender to stop him.
“But then your team doesn’t get any threat from a soldier because you only stop someone, you don’t hurt them.
“Then they try to play Ronaldo against him, directly, one against one because Alves was dominant but maybe not good defensively.
“There are always pluses and minuses for everyone. It’s cat and mouse, yes, we still have to try to deal with him but we also have to try to use the weaknesses that his superpowers provide, like me.” m making sense.
“Trying to change your team to meet this while you’re trying to create your own problems I think is difficult.
“I’d like to think we’re not just looking to stop a player but we’re going to be looking to try to do everything we can to reduce his impact while we try to focus on our strengths because we have good players.
“Players who can cause problems for France like Mbappe can do for us. We have to get better.”
‘England vs France is a 50-50 game’
England’s players had left on Tuesday but staff have begun preparations quickly, listening to France’s depth report at 9am on Monday having just returned from the Senegal game six hours earlier.
Tim Dittmer, the Football Association’s chief executive, has been following the governing body for the past two years and commented on the opposition on Saturday.
“It’s a 50-50 game in my eyes,” Holland said. “If you play low opponents and play well you get results.
“That’s the problem. We can play well but not get results. It’s 50-50 with special players who can make something out of nothing.
“But I think this team is well-equipped for what could be a quarter-final trip. It could be a long night. I feel like we’re ready to go.”
Holland believes England have a “good chance” of preparing the players both technically and physically for this week’s schedule, saying there is “no excuse” for the weekend.
He says, it’s building on what he did instead of going back to the beginning with viewers wondering if he’ll follow the four-man line or go back.
Holland “does not fully accept” the idea that the latter is the wrong way, referring to how to use “the values that have been given to us by the world”.
“I think the challenge we have before and every game we play here is to see what we have, what tools we have in the bag,” Holland said.
“Look at the problems that the opponent can give us, their weaknesses, and try to come up with something that gives us a chance to win the game.
“It sounds obvious, but to win championships you have to be the best team in Europe or the world in all the penalty boxes.
“There will be many opinions about how you get from the penalty box to the other – different countries will do this in different ways and there is no right or wrong – but generally in two penalty boxes it is the law.”