Fofana questions if Walker can shut down Mbappe
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John Skilbeck
Stats Perform
Kyle Walker and Kylian Mbappe faced each other in last season's Champions League
Kyle Walker and Kylian Mbappe faced each other in last season's Champions League

France are struggling to see how Kyle Walker will stop Kylian Mbappe running rampant in Saturday's World Cup showdown with England.

The tussle down the French left has been characterised as the key battleground ahead of the quarter-final at Al Bayt Stadium.

Mbappe's electric pace, sublime dribbling skills and eye for goal have made him the standout player at the finals so far, and the leading scorer with five goals.

Manchester City right-back Walker is the oldest player in the England squad, but the 32-year-old is also said to be the quickest. As such, it falls kindly for manager Gareth Southgate that Walker should naturally be the man to keep an eye on Mbappe.

Walker said on Wednesday that stopping Mbappe will be "easier said than done", but he added: "I'm not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score."

France defender Youssouf Fofana will reluctantly applaud Walker if he keeps Mbappe quiet.

He pointed to French Ligue 1 clubs having previously all set out with game plans to handle the Paris Saint-Germain frontman, only to have those blown out of the water by the 23-year-old's sheer brilliance.

"It's all to his credit if he knows how to stop Kylian, but 19 other teams in Ligue 1 are still waiting for the solution," Fofana said at a France press conference on Thursday.

"The truth is out there, we'll see what happens. We have confidence in Kylian."

Fofana described England and France as being "quite close in terms of culture" and said Southgate's side possessed "incredible" individuals.

"We've seen it since the Euros, they're constantly progressing. It will be a great match," said the 23-year-old Monaco player.

As a teenager, with his career in limbo after leaving the French national football academy at Clairefontaine, Fofana delivered pizzas for a living while trying to forage for a way forward in his preferred career.

He needed to earn a crust, but doors soon began to open as Strasbourg gave him an opportunity, before Monaco came calling almost three years ago.

"When you leave Clairefontaine, there are doubts," Fofana said of that time in his life. "When there are doubts you have to move forward. You need money, I had to make some. It was the best way to do that while trying to follow my dreams."

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