France journalist on England: We worry about Harry Kane as much as you fear Kylian Mbappe!

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

If everyone in England is talking about Kylian Mbappe, in France, the player we are most concerned about is Harry Kane.

We know that if we can control Kane, then it will be much easier to control Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka or whoever plays on the flanks. We have seen what Kane does for Tottenham and England. When he comes deep, things happen. We have to stop Kane finding space between the lines, making U-turns with the ball and picking passes.

Of course, we know his qualities in the box, but if we can cut the relationship between him and the defenders and midfielders, then that could be key. Kane is so dangerous in those situations, and the feeling in France is that the game could be decided by quick transitions. Both teams love to play on the counter-attack, and Mbappe, Saka and Foden all love space.

As for the battle between Mbappe and Kyle Walker, we all remember what Walker did previously against Mbappe in the Champions League last year. Walker was terrific when Manchester City beat Paris Saint-Germain in France and Mbappe was poor.

Walker is the only defender in the world fast enough to control Mbappe.

I think Walker is the only defender in the world who is fast enough to control Mbappe. He is so quick that Mbappe will need to do something else. It will be difficult for him to play outside Walker, so he will have to play more inside. Like you, we think it will be a key duel.

Maybe all the attention on Mbappe will give more importance to Ousmane Dembele on the other flank against Luke Shaw. Dembele is capable of producing sparks to light up any game. On a good day, he can terrify any defender in the world. He is so creative, so quick, he can go inside, outside and works for the team. Shaw is a good player, but we think Dembele can make the difference.

There is huge expectation around this French team, whose performances so far have been a bit unexpected. The general feeling before the tournament was that the team would not be so competitive without Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez and Christopher Nkunku, who are all injured.

Harry Kane is England’s best player. (AFP via Getty Images)
Harry Kane is England’s best player. (AFP via Getty Images)

But we have played in three of the past six World Cup Finals — 1998, 2006 and 2018 — and there is hope that we could retain the title we won four years ago. The viewing figures for our win against Poland in the last 16 were more than 17million people. That is not far from the 20m who watched the 2018 Final, which shows the level of interest in the team.

We know, though, that England are in a very good moment. You have got so many skilful players and we do not have the same weapons as you.

I have mentioned Kane, Saka and Foden, then you have Jude Bellingham, who is terrific. In French, we say his technical skill is like silk. He is so smooth with the way he touches the ball. He is tall, clever, decisive. He is not the quickest, but he is so clever and calm in the most important areas. We see Jack Gealish as the perfect substitute. He can come alive in 15 minutes when it is needed, then there is Marcus Rashford.

There is nobody really on the French bench, because we are missing too many players through injury. We have got Kingsley Coman if we need to change the game, but after that it is Marcus Thuram, a striker who has not scored as many goals for France as his father Lilian, who was a right-back and only ever scored in one game!

We are expecting a tight game, but the way Mbappe played against Poland gives us hope that he could be the man who makes the difference.