ENGLAND and France will meet in a blockbuster World Cup quarter-final on Saturday evening.
The Three Lions breezed past Senegal 3-0 on Sunday, hours after Didier Deschamps’ world champions cruised to a 3-1 victory over Poland.
Now football fans across the globe are looking ahead to the potential tactical battles that will decide the match this weekend.
Perhaps the most talked about duel is the one between French talisman Kylian Mbappe and English right-back Kyle Walker.
Mbappe, 23, has already scored five goals in Qatar – two more than any other player – and his blistering pace is frightening oppositions up and down the land.
His brace against Poland sent shudders down the spines of every England supporter – despite Gareth Southgate’s men keeping three clean sheets since the 6-2 win over Iran.
But Manchester City man Walker, 32, may well be the best-placed defender in world football to deal with the Paris Saint-Germain superstar.
The former Tottenham man hit a top speed of 23.48mph during the 2019/20 Premier League season – the fastest in the competition’s history.
According to SpeedSDB, that is less than 0.1mph slower than Mbappe’s top speed – which is a touch more than 23.5mph.
What’s more, Walker has been dribbled past just THREE times in his last 24 England appearances – which works out as once every 686 minutes.
However, it is safe to say Mbappe will be his toughest England test to date.
The 2018 World Cup winner has completed 13 dribbles in Qatar – with only Germany’s Jamal Musiala managing more (19).
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And Mbappe has produced a successful dribble in 21 of the last 22 games for his country.
Walker and Mbappe have faced each other four times in the past – with two wins each.
They first got to know one another in a friendly between France and England in 2017 – which ended with Deschamps’ men claiming a 3-2 victory.
Walker then had to wait four years to face Mbappe once more, before he got the better of him in April 2021 as Man City beat PSG 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Mbappe played no part in the second leg, with their third meeting then coming in September last year as PSG earned a 2-0 win.
Two months later they battled in the Champions League yet again.
And City secured a 2-1 win – although Mbappe did manage to bag his first goal against Walker.
The England international is a seasoned operator at the highest level.
He has 72 caps to his name and has helped England keep clean sheets in both games he has started in Qatar against Wales and Senegal.
But Mbappe’s terrifying record of 33 goals in 63 games for France – and nine in 11 World Cup matches – makes him an an intimidating proposition.
Former England striker Gary Lineker even suggested resting Walker ahead of the win over Senegal in order to preserve him for a battle with Mbappe.
He said: “Kyle Walker should not be in England’s team to play Senegal.”
The World Cup Golden Boot winner then added: “England cannot afford for Walker to get injured because he’s probably just about the only full-back on the planet that can compete with Kylian Mbappe, and that is the French team.
“How would you take the risk, why would you take the risk of him getting injured?”
Fortunately for England, Walker did not get injured and is now set for an almighty tussle with Mbappe on Saturday.