Ever since it became apparent that England would have to get past France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, the talk has been about how the Three Lions can deal with Kylian Mbappé.
The mercurial winger has been sensational at the World Cup with five goals and two assists to fire the French into the last 8.
So far, he has looked unstoppable but Gareth Southgate’s side must find a solution to counter that on Saturday if they are to stand any chance of advancing.
Project stop Mbappé
England assistant manager Steve Holland has been speaking to the media ahead of the massive clash between the two European nations.
The coach recalled a story from Jose Mourinho about how he dealt with Dani Alves and then looked to exploit Barcelona during an El Clasico match.
Holland spoke about the importance of stopping a key player like Mbappé, but then also having a player who can offer a threat to the opposition.
Kyle Walker is likely to be the man tasked with keeping the Frenchman quiet, but Southgate and his staff will then need to find the right balance between stopping him and still having the players on the pitch to hurt France.
Holland told the media: “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.”
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