DOHA ( Associated Press) – How does it feel to be tagged by Kylian Mbappe?
This is the candid testimony of Matti Cash, the Polish right-back: “He burned my legs. He’s the fastest man I’ve ever seen.”
He experienced it firsthand during their round of 16 match as France beat Poland 3–1, with Mbappé scoring two high-quality goals and providing an assist to open the scoring for his teammate Olivier Giroud.
Cash, who held hands with Argentine star Lionel Messi at the end of the group stage, hit out more at Embappé: “Obviously he’s incredible. I spent the afternoon watching his videos. I already knew it would be difficult. The difference is that I was in bed when I saw the video, I didn’t have to use my legs.”
Embappé is in another dimension in Qatar.
While Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing their fifth World Cups of extraordinary careers, the France and Paris Saint-Germain striker has taken to the field with a passion to silence those who doubt he is the player he deserves. Has been called to pick up from the pantheon.
“He is a real star,” said Poland’s coach Cheslaw Michniewicz. “I’m talking about (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Robert) Lewandowski. If someone is going to take over, I think Mbappe will be the best player for many years.”
As a 19-year-old phenom, Mbappe scored four goals in the campaign that led France to their second championship four years earlier.
Now, at the age of 23, he has doubled the scoring tally for Russia 2018 and is the tournament’s top scorer.
His harvest of nine goals at the World Cup made him the first player to reach that figure before the age of 24, breaking the record held by Pelé, who scored seven goals before that age.
But Embappé doesn’t go out of his way to score goals and draw comparisons with the Brazilian star, who won two World Cups at the age of 21.
“We are still very far away from the goal that we have set for ourselves and what I have set for myself… to win the title,” he added. “It’s the only thing I dream about. I came here to win this World Cup. I didn’t come here to win the Ballon d’Or or the Golden Boot.”
Mbappe had kept complete silence in Qatar till Sunday. He bypassed the mandatory interview requirement for the best player in a match award, which he had already received in Les Bleus’ first two matches in the group round.
He had no choice but to do so after the win against Poland
“I wanted to express myself publicly. I know there were quite a few questions about why he wasn’t speaking. To all the reporters… it was nothing against him personally or against people “
“I need to focus on the tournament and when I want to focus on something, I have to do it 100 per cent and not waste energy on other things,” he added. “I knew the federation was going to fine me. I promise to make them pay.”
Moving down the left flank against Poland, Embappé performed from start to finish.
The first was in the blink of an eye – with a self-pass. He fired the ball into open space at 35 kilometers per hour (22 mph), outmaneuvered Przemysław Frankowski and controlled the ball several yards forward. The play didn’t end in a goal, but it was a preview of what Mbappe was going to display during the night.
Moving into the middle, Embappé acted as playmaker and delivered a pass between the lines of Poland’s defense and Giroud capitalized to open the scoring.
Two of his goals came in the second half with a pair of kicks in which he rattled Polish defenders, who were not impressed by Mbappe’s monstrous pace and power.
“We all know what Killian does. He speaks with his feet on the pitch and he speaks very well,” said France coach Didier Deschamps. He has the ability to change the course of the match at any time.”
Next up is the quarter-final against England on Saturday, essentially a preliminary final.