In years to come, we might remember the knockout rounds of the 2018 World Cup as the moment the baton of the world’s greatest player was passed onto its next superstar. After a decade of dominance from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, after a thousand debates over which is superior, on Saturday they were united in misery. Messi’s Argentina were out. Ronaldo’s Portugal were out. But Kylian Mbappe’s France were through.nfl nike jerseys cheap china
Mbappe was already a star at club level, after two excellent seasons with Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, but ultimately he’s very new to international football. A year ago, Mbappe had never scored for his national side. Now, after two years of Didier Deschamps obsessing over whether France should be based around Antoine Griezmann or Paul Pogba, suddenly Mbappe is the main man.
With Messi and Ronaldo out of contention, bookmakers now consider him the favourite to win this tournament’s Golden Ball, awarded to the World Cup’s best player. Amazingly, Mbappe has only really shone in one match so far, but that summarises his extraordinary level of performance in France’s 4-3 victory over Argentina.
Mbappe’s display was a two-part act: He ripped into Argentina in the first half to put France on the front foot, and then sealed the game himself after the break. Few players in this tournament have been capable of playing both roles, putting their side in charge and then putting their side in front. It was, for that reason, the standout performance of the tournament so far.
With Argentina playing a 4-3-3 and offering left-back Nicolas Tagliafico no protection whatsoever, Mbappe was afforded far too much space from his right-sided position, and France’s general approach was simple: find Mbappe, and let him run. The game’s first significant incident came when Javier Mascherano clumsily fouled Mbappe, allowing Griezmann to step up and fire the resulting free kick against the crossbar. That was the early warning sign. Argentina didn’t learn their lesson.
Minutes later, Mbappe was first onto a loose ball inside his own half, and within eight seconds had dribbled almost the length of the pitch before being taken down inside the penalty area by Marcos Rojo. It was a frightening demonstration of pure speed, taking Mbappe easily past opponents and forcing Rojo into a completely pointless foul. Griezmann scored from the spot, and France were 1-0 ahead.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china
The same pattern continued. With Mbappe making a run in behind the defence, rather than dribbling through it himself, he was found by Pogba’s booming pass, with Tagliafico taking his turn to foul France’s No. 10. A free kick was awarded, right on the edge of the box. Pogba fired over.
Argentina battled back, briefly going ahead. Mbappe’s opportunities to counterattack were limited by Ever Banega shifting across, even if he was cautioned for his first challenge of the second half.