Kylian Mbappe: French striker misses open training ahead of England’s World Cup quarter-final | Soccer News

England assistant manager Steve Holland has said French star Kylian Mbappe is one of a handful of players on the planet who need “special attention”.

Mbappe missed France’s open training session on Tuesday – just four days away from Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against England.

The PSG striker, who is the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, underwent a separate recovery session.

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But the 23-year-old is a big headache for England, whose assistant helped hatch plans to keep Lionel Messi quiet as Chelsea shocked Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals in 2012.

“I think there are a handful of players on the planet that you need to pay special attention to,” Holland said. “Messi was one and probably still is.

“You should put Mbappe in that kind of category I would suggest.

“We have to try to avoid getting into situations where he is as devastating as we have all seen. We have to try to find a way to avoid that.

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

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“(Dani) Alves would be Barcelona’s right-back and attacking in attack, he would play a soldier against him to try and stop him.

“But of course you don’t get any threats from your team from the soldier because you’re just arresting someone, you’re not actually hurting them.

“Then he would try to play Ronaldo against him, straight, one-on-one because Alves was fantastic in attack but maybe not as good defensively as a result.

“There’s always a plus and a minus for everyone. It’s that cat and mouse, yes, we still have to try to deal with him but we also have to try and exploit the weakness that his super strength offers, if I’m making sense.

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“Trying to adapt your team to cover that while trying to create your own problems is, I think, the challenge.

“I would like to think that we will not only look to stop a player, but we will look to try and do everything we can to limit his super strength while trying to focus on our own strengths because we have good players.

“Players as likely to cause problems for France as Mbappe would be for us. We have to find that balance.”

“England v France is a 50-50 game”

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The England players were free on Tuesday but the staff began to prepare in earnest, listening to a detailed report from France at 9am on Monday, having only returned from the game against Senegal six hours earlier.

Tim Dittmer, the Football Association’s head coach, has been following the defending champions for two years and gave a presentation on Saturday’s opponents.

“It’s a 50-50 game in my eyes,” Holland said. “If you play against inferior opposition and play well, you get the result.

“That’s the challenge. We could play well and not get a result. It’s 50-50 with special players who can suddenly produce something out of nothing.

“But I think the team is really well equipped for the journey this quarter-final could be. It could be a long night. I think we’re as ready as ever to face it.”

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Holland believes England have the “perfect opportunity” to prepare the players tactically and physically given this week’s schedule, saying there is “no excuse” before the weekend.

It’s about, he says, building on what they’ve done rather than going back to the start as viewers wonder if they’ll stick to a backline four or go back to a baseline at five.

Holland doesn’t ‘fully agree’ with the perception that the latter is a more negative approach, saying it’s about how they can ‘use the attributes given to us by the country “.

“I think the challenge with us before the tournament and before every game we play now is to look at what we have, the tools we have in the bag,” Holland said.

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“Look at the problems the opponent is going to cause us, their weaknesses, and try to find something that gives us the best chance of winning the game.

“It seems a bit obvious but really, but to win tournaments you have to be the best team in Europe or the world in both penalty boxes.

“There will be a lot of opinions on how you go from one penalty box to another – different nations will do it in different ways and there’s no right or wrong – but normally in both penalty benches, it’s the law.”

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