England boss Gareth Southgate has reportedly singled out Kyle Walker, Bukayo Saka and Jordan Henderson as the three players who can negate the threat of Kylian Mbappe. The Three Lions are set to come face-to-face with Mbappe when they take on France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday night.
England began their World Cup campaign by thrashing Iran 6-2, before drawing 0-0 with USA and overcoming Wales 3-0. That undefeated run saw them top Group B as they went on to face Senegal in the last 16. And Southgate’s side were in imperious form against the Africa Cup of Nations champions as they beat them 3-0.
The Three Lions have been rewarded for their endeavours by being handed a showdown with France at the Al Bayt Stadium. But in Mbappe they face one of the best players on the planet at present. Mbappe is currently the World Cup’s top scorer after bagging five goals. And he has been a constant menace to opposition defenders.
According to The Independent, Southgate and his staff were still deciding on final touches to the England team on Friday. There is a feeling that Saka can help balance his team on the right because he is so good tactically. And with Walker behind him and Henderson shuttling over from the centre of the pitch, the Three Lions could have sufficient protection against Mbappe while they maintain their own structure and threat.
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England could have met France in the World Cup final four years ago in Russia but exited the competition at the semi-final stage when they were beaten by Croatia. Les Bleus went on to lift the trophy after winning the final 4-2. And ex-England midfielder Danny Murphy has warned the Three Lions not to treat France as a one-man team.
“You’ve got to be careful not to see them as a one-man team, although Kylian Mbappe is the best player in the world in my opinion,” Murphy said ahead of the last eight encounter. “Kyle Walker has played against Mbappe many times and not struggled. Hopefully we are well-equipped.”