Mbappé the French X factor
Speedy Kylian Mbappé could be the X factor when France take on England today in the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals in Qatar. So says TVJ football analyst Andrew Price who expects Mbappé and his French teammate Ousmane Dembélé to work the English...
Speedy Kylian Mbappé could be the X factor when France take on England today in the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals in Qatar. So says TVJ football analyst Andrew Price who expects Mbappé and his French teammate Ousmane Dembélé to work the English defenders to a frazzle.
“I think it will be a war of attrition,” Price said of the impending battle between France, winners in 2018, and England, the 1966 champions.
“Based on form,” Price predicted, “France will win the game, but we have seen so many surprises at this World Cup. Teams are planning and preparing to go the distance in this tournament, but based on the form chart, France should win the game but I wouldn’t be surprised if England makes it to the semi-finals.
“When you look at the French team,” the Humble Lion coach continued, “I believe that the X factor is their attacking prowess, especially when you look at Mbappé and the type of form that he is in right now. He seems to be in mercurial form. He’s the game changer and it’s going to be very difficult, whoever plays right back, could possibly be Kyle Walker, or (Kieran) Trippier, it’s going to be a very rough day for them, and to compound it, it’s going to be an even rougher day for Luke Shaw with Dembélé.”
Mbappé, who has been timed at 35 kilometres per hour, has already scored five times in the tournament and the French frontline also has Olivier Giroud, now the country’s all-time top scorer. “He can hold up the ball and play off the ball to the midfielders such as Antoine Griezmann and Adrien Rabiot and Aurélien Tchouameni. It makes for a very potent offensive line,” Price noted.
England, however, have only conceded two goals in Qatar, leaving Price to predict, “So right now, it’s about attack versus defence.”
Price praised England coach Gareth Southgate for easing Walker back into action after a groin injury, but he still wonders if the 32 year old Manchester City defender is ready for the French terror.
“Can he sustain the relentless attack of Mbappé for 90 plus minutes or maybe 120 plus minutes? Can he sustain that, and he is going to be put to the test and if anybody can put you to a test, it’s Mbappé,” he said.
As a defender himself, Price cites the role played by West Ham United captain Declan Rice.
“He has been providing that screen for the English team in that central area. He doesn’t wander all over the park,” Price said admiringly.
With 12 goals overall from Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson, captain Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka, the English have firepower of their own.
“They’re not depending on Harry Kane alone,” the analyst calculated. The 19-year-old Bellingham provided the pass that led to Henderson’s goal in England’s 3-0 round of 16 win over Senegal, leaving Price to remark, “his meteoric rise in this World Cup has been phenomenal.”