Football News

“That’s your lesson taught” – Kyle Walker reveals Theo Walcott experience that may help him deal with Kylian Mbappe

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:53, 8 December 2022

Kyle Walker believes he is ready to take on Kylian Mbappe when England face France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, drawing on previous experiences against Theo Walcott.

The English defender has faced Mbappe before, when Manchester City took on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, but he was not directly tasked with stopping the Frenchman.

England vs France news: How will Walker stop Mbappe?

When it was made clear that England would be facing France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, some Three Lions fans were fretting over the prospect of Walker defending against Mbappe. While he is an experienced defender and one of the best England have when on form, Walker didn’t have the greatest of games against Senegal, still struggling for full fitness after returning from injury for the World Cup.

But Walker will be hoping his experience helps him keep Mbappe quiet on Saturday night, especially with previous games against Walcott.

“You have to use a little bit of nous. You can’t be a speed boat with no driver,” he told reporters of dealing with Mbappe.

“You need to obviously use your brain when needed. And I can’t get as tight to him as I probably would do on some other players. That’s just the nature of the game.

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“I remember playing against Theo Walcott once and I’ve tried to get so close to him and all of a sudden he just spins in behind you and you think well that’s your lesson taught.”

Mbappe is the top scorer at the 2022 World Cup with five goals in four games, but that is not the only attacking metric he leads in. The Frenchman has had the most shots at the World Cup with 21 and is also joint-top for shots on target (10) and only Jamal Musalia has completed more take-ons than Mbappe’s 13.

As mentioned, Walker has played against Mbappe before, but he wasn’t a direct opponent – instead going up against his PSG teammate Neymar. But neither are the toughest player that Walker has faced, according to the man himself.

“Technically I didn’t play against Mbappe,” he continued.

“One versus one it was more Neymar. I think Neymar is a fantastic player. I would probably say Sadio Mane. Just because he never gives you a moment’s rest on the ball.

“I’m not saying that the other guys that I mentioned don’t but you know, they probably don’t defend as much as Mane does and they save their energy when they’re attacking.

“So for me it’d probably be Mane.”