Rested Mbappé to face England in World Cup quarterfinals
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Yes, Kylian Mbappé will be ready to face England at the World Cup on Saturday. No, the France forward was not injured when he missed a recent training session.
France teammate Ibrahima Konaté delivered a reassuring message about Mbappé on Wednesday, news that perhaps England fans did not want to hear three days before the teams meet in the quarterfinals.
“There’s nothing worrying. Nothing to make a controversy about,” Konaté said, explaining Mbappé had a recovery session away from the training field on Tuesday — normal routine two days after a game in the round of 16.
Mbappé’s two goals in that 3-1 win over Poland gave him a tournament-leading five at this year’s World Cup. He is expected to be closely marked on Saturday by England’s fastest defender, Kyle Walker.
“Walker is one of the best right backs in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing this great battle,” Konaté said of the Manchester City defender, who he knows well from playing for Premier League rival Liverpool.
Now in his second season in the Premier League, Konaté was asked what he had learned from the style of game France will face Saturday at Al Bayt Stadium.
Konaté singled out the need to keep high levels of concentration at all times or “pay in cash” for any mistakes.
The Premier League was also on the mind of France midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who has impressed at the World Cup in Qatar four years after he was not selected in the country’s title-winning squad.
“I always said that I would like to play in England in my career,” said the Juventus midfielder, who will be 28 when his contract with the Italian club expires at the end of the season.
Rabiot added he had no particular English club in mind, or if he would go next year, just that he was attracted by the league’s level of play.
At the age of 13, he spent six months in England with Man City. He described that as a “very good experience.”
Rabiot has retruned to the national team after provoking a dispute in 2018 with France coach Didier Deschamps. That spat took two years to resolve, but Rabiot is now back in favor and anchoring the French midfield in Qatar.
“He understands me better. He knows my personality better,” Rabiot said. “Today we are much closer.”
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