Wednesday, February 28News That Matters

England plan to use Chelsea’s Messi blueprint to stop Mbappe in quater-final clash

England are working on a tactical masterplan to stop France attacker Kylian Mbappe.

England manager Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff have put France superstar Mbappe in the same bracket as Argentina forward Lionel Messi.

Southgate’s No. 2, Steve Holland, devised a defensive plan to stop Messi in the Nou Camp when he was at Chelsea and the London club beat Barcelona on the way to winning the Champions League in 2012.

Holland concedes England are looking at different ways to stop Mbappe, who has five goals in the 2022 World Cup and will be France’s biggest threat in Saturday’s quarter-final.

Holland said: “2012, with the Champions league semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea, I think there are a handful of players on the planet that you need to consider special attention to.

“Messi has been one and probably still is. You’d have to put Mbappe in that kind of category, I would suggest. We do need to look at trying to avoid avoid leaving ourselves in situations where he is as devastating as we’ve all seen. We have to try to find a way of avoiding that.”

Holland also said that England must get the balance right between trying to stop Mbappe but also creating their own threat & exploiting the space which he leaves while going forward.

Holland added: “I remember having a conversation with Jose Mourinho about it a long time ago when he was with Real Madrid, they were playing Barcelona and they had Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Dani Alves would be the right back for Barcelona and flying forwards in attack. So he would play a soldier against him to try to stop him. But then, of course, you don’t get any threat from your team from the soldier as you’re just stopping somebody, you’re not actually hurting them.

“Then he would try to play Ronaldo against him, directly, one against one, because Alves was fantastic going forwards but maybe not quite as good defensively as a consequence.

“There is always a plus and a minus to every one. It’s that cat and mouse of, ‘Yes, we have still got to try to deal with him, but we also have to try to exploit the weakness that his super strength delivers’. Trying to adapt your team to cover for that whilst still trying to create your own problems is, I think, the challenge.

“We also have to focus on our own strengths because we have good players. We have players just as likely to cause France trouble as Mbappe would be for us. We have to find that balance. It’s a really good question.”

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