It’s not just Kyle Walker’s job! Micah Richards urges John Stones to stay ‘switched on’ to keep Kylian Mbappe quiet as Jurgen Klinsmann insists England must ‘work as a team’ against France in tomorrow’s World Cup quarter-final
Micah Richards has warned John Stones that he must remain alert against France to help his team-mate Kyle Walker deal with the threat of PSG star Kylian Mbappe.
Richards believes that Mbappe is not just a threat down the right, but that he scores goals from all areas of the pitch, and World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann added that England will have to defend ‘as a team’ on Saturday.
Much has been made of the battle between Mbappe and Walker, and how the winner will decide the outcome of the quarter-final clash, but Richards and Klinsmann are insistent that it is about more than a one vs one duel.
Micah Richards is adamant that John Stones will have to remain switched on against France
The danger posed by Kylian Mbappe has dominated the build-up to England’s quarter-final
‘I think sometimes you can make the battle too personal. If you look at where Mbappe has got his goals from it is not just coming onto his right from the left, it is the centre of goal as well.
‘So [John] Stones needs to make sure he is switched on. I was playing against a winger and it would sometimes affect my game on build-up, as I was so worried about who I was playing against, I was not in my natural position for build-up.
Stones will be called upon to help his Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker
‘When you are not approaching the game as you normally would, you can leave gaps and spaces everywhere else.’
But Mbappe is not the only player England need to be wary of when they come up against a star-studded French line-up, and Richards added: ‘It is not just about Mbappe, they have some top players like (Antoine) Griezmann, (Olivier) Giroud, (Ousmane) Dembele, they are all class players.’
With Mbappe’s prodigious and fearsome pace, Walker is the natural choice in Gareth Southgate’s endeavour to keep the PSG flyer quiet when the Three Lions meet Les Bleus in the quarter-final in Qatar.
But BBC pundits were unanimous in their appraisal of how England will be best served in tackling the forward, who is the top scorer at the World Cup with five goals to his name already.
And as such, Klinsmann claims that the best approach on Saturday will see England’s defence work as a unit, rather than as individuals, with an emphasis on keeping the space as ‘tight as possible’.
Jurgen Klinsmann added that England will have to remain resolute and keep the space ‘tight’
‘It will be teamwork when you are playing Mbappe, you have to double and shift over there and make the space as tight as possible,’ said the former Germany forward.
‘If they work as a team and are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses, there is a good chance for England to get through.’
And fellow BBC pundit Alex Scott – an ex-England full-back herself – noted: ‘I think the important thing is having someone to cover you in those moments as well.’