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Football Reporting

EURO 2020

Kalvin Phillips backs Kyle Walker against Kylian Mbappe in World Cup clash – ‘The only one that is quicker than him’


Kalvin Phillips says “unbelievable” England team-mate Kyle Walker is the defender he would put up against France’s Kylian Mbappe in their World Cup quarter-final showdown.

Mbappe has been in searing form so far at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scoring five times to lead the way in the chase for the golden boot, including two screamers in the last win over Poland.

Asked if England have been making any special preparations for the 23-year-old, Phillips told the press that Gareth Southgate’s side have been working on tactics for the whole French team rather than fixating on Mbappe.

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However, he did agree that Walker is likely to be tasked with trying to stop the striker and fully backs him to do so.

“We know he is an amazing player,” said the Manchester City midfielder. “And he has been one of the top players for the last few years and is probably going to be one of the best players in the world.

“We have to think about how to stop him and [Olivier] Giroud and [Antoine] Griezmann. We have been working on tactics to stop the whole team.

“But if there was anyone I would like to put up against Mbappe, it would be Kyle Walker because he is an unbelievable defender and probably the only one that is quicker than him as well.”

He added: “He’s [Walker] the quickest player I’ve played against in football.

“A lot of people obviously ask ‘how quick is he?’ and honestly, you can’t explain it until you’ve seen it up against another quick player.

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“I think we’ll see that in a couple of days.”

Mbappe and France are eyeing back-to-back World Cup triumphs having lifted the trophy in 2018.

England, meanwhile, are looking to reach a third successive international tournament semi-final after reaching the final four in Russia as well as also reaching the final of Euro 2020.

Despite heartbreak in both those tournaments, the Three Lions will arrive at the Al Bayt stadium unbeaten so far in the tournament having scored the joint-most goals with 12, and conceding just twice, and Phillips believes they are well placed to take the next step and finally end the 66-year trophy drought.

“We’ve spoken about every team that’s won a tournament in the past 10 or so years,” he added.

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“It was in a 25-minute meeting about our identity, about how we want to play and how we want to progress in the tournament.

“We know that it’s down to a good defensive record and being clinical at the other end of the pitch. I think we went through so many teams, even clubs, to see how they perform throughout a season.

“If we can get along those lines and numbers then there’s no reason we can’t go all the way and eventually win the World Cup.”

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