France are not overly dependent on Kylian Mbappe, according to head coach Didier Deschamps.
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.
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 semi-finals up for grabs.
Deschamps dismissed the idea France rely too heavily on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has now scored 250 goals for club and country.
“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 in a press conference.
“Even in the last match, he didn’t show his top form, but he was still decisive.
“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 the difference in any moment.”
250 – Kylian Mbappé’s second goal against Poland on Sunday was the 250th of his professional career (360th game), reaching this tally in 150 games fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo (510) and 19 games fewer than Lionel Messi (379). Statement. pic.twitter.com/77e6yGUKBN
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 6, 2022
A major talking point in the build-up to the game has been the match-up between Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Walker, who could play either in a back four or a back five in order to combat the France forward’s threat.
France captain Hugo Lloris played with Walker at Tottenham and said Mbappe is putting the talk to one side.
“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 said.
“He’s very focused on his objectives, individually and collectively. He seems very happy, playing with a smile on his face and seems very focused on the match ahead of us.
“That’s how he’s looked from the beginning of this tournament.”
While the focus will be on Mbappe at one end of the pitch, England captain Harry Kane – who won the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 – could be decisive at the other, having scored his first goal of the tournament in the Three Lions’ 3-0 defeat of Senegal in the round of 16.
“I only have positive things to say about Harry, he’s very important for the team, club and for England as well,” Lloris said of his Spurs team-mate.
“A real leader, an example for his team-mates, and he’s a top player.
“Harry’s someone who is known all over the world – not sure I can add too much to what is known. Our focus will be on representing our countries.”
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