How England plan to combat the threat of Kylian Mbappe
England assistant manager Steve Holland has revealed that the Three Lions may look to use Kylian Mbappe's "super strengths" against him during their World Cup quarter-final clash with France.
Goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka eased England to a 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16, while France were convincing 3-1 winners over Poland.
The two will square off at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday night for a place in the last four, and a number of eyes will be focused on Mbappe - who was at his electrifying best against Poland as he scored two superb goals to take his tournament tally to five.
Speculation over how England plan to combat the threat offered by Mbappe has been rife, with suggestions that Gareth Southgate may switch to a back three and play both Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.
There were no such giveaways when Southgate's assistant Holland sat down for media duties, but he did intimate how England may look to stop a player many consider to be the best forward in the world.
“I think there are a handful of players on the planet that you need to consider special attention to,” Holland said. “Messi has been one and probably still is. You’d have to put Mbappe in that kind of category. We do need to look at trying to avoid leaving ourselves in situations where he is as devastating as we’ve all seen. We have to try and find a way of avoiding that.”
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Sean Walsh, Ali Rampling and Brian Goldfarb to look back on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil - join us!
If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!
“I remember having a conversation with Mourinho about it a long time ago, when he was with Real Madrid. They were playing Barcelona and they had Ronaldo. [Dani] Alves would be the right back for Barcelona and flying forwards in attack. [Mourinho] would play a soldier against him to try to stop him, but then of course you don’t get any threat from your team from the soldier as you’re stopping somebody, you’re not actually hurting them.
“Then he would try to play Ronaldo against him directly, one against one, because Alves was fantastic going forward but maybe not quite as good defensively as a consequence.
“There is always a plus and a minus to every one. It’s that cat and mouse of, ‘Yes, we have still got to try to deal with him,’ but we also have to try to exploit the weakness that his super strength delivers.
“Trying to adapt your team to cover for that while still trying to create your own problems is the challenge. We won’t just be looking to stop a player… Our players are just as likely to cause France trouble as Mbappe would be to us. We have to find that balance.”
Mbappe is currently two goals clear in the race to win the Golden Boot, having already equalled the number of goals scored by Lionel Messi at World Cup finals in just his second appearance in the tournament.