England v France – Kyle Walker ‘will not roll out red carpet’ for Kylian Mbappe

football, France, sport, world cup, World Cup 2022, World Cup 2022: England v France - Kyle Walker 'will not roll out red carpet' for Kylian Mbappe

Kyle Walker says he will “not roll out a red carpet” for Kylian Mbappe and England will have more concerns than just one player in their World Cup quarter-final against holders France.

England face France in the last eight in Qatar on Saturday (19:00 GMT) in the first knockout match between the two nations at a major tournament.

Mbappe, 23, is the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals in four games.

“I understand what I need to do and that is to stop him,” Walker, 32, said.

“It’s easier said than done but I don’t underestimate myself,” the England right-back added.

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“He is a fantastic player in great form. It is not going to be an easy task, but as a professional footballer you want to play against the best and I think he is one of the best, if not the best, in the world at the moment.”

Mbappe did not train with the rest of the France squad on Tuesday, instead having a recovery session, and France defender Ibrahima Konate said there was “nothing to worry about”.

“We haven’t really spoken about it at all. He was just resting,” the Liverpool centre-back said.

“Walker and Mbappe are two very great players. Walker is one of the best right-backs in the world, I can’t wait to see this battle.”

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‘Neither team is the underdog or the favourite’
Walker is familiar with Mbappe, having come up against the Paris St-Germain forward with Manchester City in the previous two Champions League campaigns.

City won two and lost one of the three meetings in which both players featured – and Mbappe has admitted he found facing Walker challenging.

On the Frenchman’s comments, Walker said: “That’s nice to hear because he had a tough game against me. I know he’s a top player but we’re not playing tennis. It’s not a solo sport, it’s a team game.

“You have to give him respect but not too much. Yes, it will be a tough game but a team cannot just be about one person,” he added.

“I’m not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score. It’s a World Cup, it’s do or die.”

The Three Lions defeated Senegal 3-0 in their last-16 match, while France also progressed smoothly with a 3-1 win over Poland.

Mbappe scored twice in that French victory and the forward has now been involved in his team’s last seven World Cup goals.

“When we’ve played Paris St-Germain in the Champions League, we’re not just thinking of Mbappe and it’s the same on Saturday,” Walker said.

“Yes he’s a tool in their armoury – and a very good one – but you can’t underestimate their other players.”

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England have kept three successive clean sheets – one shy of their national record at a World Cup achieved in both 1966 and 1982.

At the other end of the pitch, the Three Lions have scored 12 goals in four games – equalling their highest tally at a single World Cup.

Having reached the last four in Russia in 2018, and the European Championship final in 2021, Walker believes there is no favourite as Gareth Southgate’s side prepare to face the defending champions.

“We’re playing the world champions but we are two good teams that will go toe-to-toe,” Walker said.

“We have great talent. In my eyes, neither team is the underdogs or the favourites.”

Grealish says England enjoying ‘proving doubters wrong’
England midfielder Jack Grealish says the team enjoy trying to “prove wrong” the doubters as they gear up for their biggest test yet against France.

After England’s 3-0 win over Senegal in the last 16, midfielder Declan Rice said he did not think the team received the credit they deserved and Grealish agrees with his team-mate.

“I don’t think we ever do [get enough recognition] but sometimes it is nice to be, not underdogs, but where people just don’t really give you credit and you can keep proving them wrong,” the Manchester City forward told BBC Sport.

“People were saying things about us when we played the USA and we didn’t score.

“But we have been scoring goals, keeping clean sheets and controlling games, so we will go into the [France] game full of confidence.”

After runs to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Euro 2020 final, Grealish says this England team has a “special bond” with the fans and thinks Three Lions supporters now have a belief that had been previously lacking.

“The fans are going into each game thinking this team can win whoever they play against,” he said.

“No doubt this game [against France] will be biggest test yet but you’re never going to get to a World Cup final without playing the best.

“But we know if we do everything right and play the way we have been then we can beat anyone on our day and I think we have proven that in the last few games.”

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