Harry Maguire should read this note. Yes, that Manchester United defender, famous for carrying slowness and clumsiness with dignity at the highest level of football. Harry Maguire will face Mbappé today. Surely his coach Southgate will avoid him and send Stones and Walker to the difficult task of stopping him. But at some point Maguire, who would surely be crippled if he danced salsa or timba, will run into the most threatening player in the world, pound for pound.
We Peruvians know what the similar challenge of trying to stop Mbappé means. It happened in Russia 2018, in the first phase. La Blanquirroja had lost 1-0 to Denmark and was in need of a victory or at least a draw against the French so as not to be eliminated. We had returned to the world championships after 36 years and we just didn’t want to leave so soon.
But opposite was Mbappé, a 19-year-old cheetah who was already excelling at Paris Saint Germain after some brilliant seasons with Monaco under Radamel Falcao and James Rodríguez. The numbers are cold: Mbappé beat Gallese after 34 minutes of the first half. It was the only goal of the match. The Peruvian defense failed to keep its lethality away from the area. But the truth is that the balance was positive. The staggered mark of Alberto Rodríguez, Pedro Aquino and Christian Ramos bothered him in several passages of the match.
“It was definitely very difficult because of the category and quality it has. He is an elite player. He is very fast, powerful and unbalancing. It complicates any defense, but we gave it our all”tells us the ‘Mudo’, a bastion of the Bicolor defense that burned its last ships in that tournament.
For his part, Néstor Bonillo, physical trainer of Ricardo Gareca’s technical command, defined Mbappé’s qualities. “He is a player with very high speed, not only in the long game, he also accelerates and decelerates more than most footballers.” Of course, he did not want to tell the strategy that Gareca used. A state secret apparently. “I know that Ricardo asked all the players who had a distinction in their offensive characteristics. But they are things that he has to tell you himself ”he added. Beyond that, it was clear that there was an impetus to put him in a box. At that time Mbappé was more of a winger and he wasn’t the striker that moves around the attack center like he is now.
Regarding that game, Miguel Trauco, the left back who had to contain Mbappé and Pavard, has only said: “It was complicated. It’s always hard for me to face fast players”. The same ordeal as Maguire. Let us see what England proposes. Difficult to decipher the best player in the world.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.