The France team is not all about Kylian Mbappe but there is much more to it than just the striker, says coach Didier Deschamps as they head into Saturday’s crunch quarterfinal match of the FIFA World Cup against England.
“I’m sure England will have prepared to face Kylian as our previous opponents did, but he’s in a position to make the difference,” Deschamps said at a press conference on Friday.
Deschamps dismissed the idea that France rely too heavily on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has now scored 250 goals for club and country.
“We have other players that can be dangerous as well, so that helps us not be over-dependent on Kylian. But Kylian is Kylian, and he has that capacity to make a difference at any moment.”
Mbappe has been in sparkling form at the Qatar World Cup and is the top scorer in the competition with five goals from four appearances. The 23-year-old’s double in the last-16 win over Poland has taken his tally of World Cup goals to nine, as many as Lionel Messi and more than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The pre-game talk is centred around the match within a match between Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Walker.
France captain Hugo Lloris, who played with Walker at Tottenham, said Mbappe is putting the talk aside and is fully focused on the game at hand.
“I think Kylian is preparing very well. Trying to ignore a lot of the talk about him, it’s really not something he needs. He’s very focused on his goals, individually and collectively. He seems very happy, playing with a smile on his face and seems very focused on the match ahead of us.”
World champions France are unbeaten in the 13 games Mbappe has started in major competitions – outside of penalty shoot-outs — and will be hoping that record continues against England at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, with a place in the semifinals up for grabs.
For France to continue their unbeaten run much will depend on the performance at one end of the pitch where England captain Harry Kane — who won the Golden Boot in Russia 2018 — could be decisive, having scored his first goal of the tournament in the Three Lions’ 3-0 defeat of Senegal in the Round of 16.