World Cup Today: A star is born

The first thing that stands out about 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe is his speed.

On his 75-yard run that ended when he was hauled down by Marcos Rojo for a penalty kick converted by Antoine Griezmannin the 13rd minute, French network TF1 clocked him going as fast as 37 kilometers a hour (almost 23 miles an hour) as he raced through midfield.

Three times in the first 20 minutes, Mbappe blew past Argentine defenders and was fouled. On the first foul, Griezmann hit the woodwork with his free kick. On the third, Paul Pogba's free kick from the edge of the area went high and into the stands.

But it was on the third breakthrough that ended with Nicolas Tagliafico picking up a yellow card that Mbappe demonstrated what French coach Didier Deschamps has often repeated: his youngster knows how to play soccer.

Mbappe made a perfectly angled run to stay onside and latch on to Pogba's 60-yard pass (off a ball the Manchester United star touched down on a free kick and immediately booted!) with his right foot and play it off his left knee into the area just before he was taken down. It wasn't quite like what Lionel Messi did against Nigeria but it was exceptional.

Mbappe has instincts, timing and touch, and he used them to destroy Argentina as much as he did with his speed.

With the score 2-2 in the 64th minute, a loose ball came to Mbappe in the area. Instead of shooting wildly, the boy from Bondy flipped the ball past Argentina midfielder Enzo Perez to his left and ran on to the ball, cutting out a line of three Argentine defenders before firing it under keeper Franco Armani with his (weaker) left foot.

Mbappe's second goal was a work of art in terms of its buildup -- five passes from keeper Hugo Lloris to Olivier Giroud in the blink of an eye -- that ended with the much-maligned Giroud playing the ball to Mbappe on the right side. But the PSG player slowed down just enough to line up his shot and freeze Armani, firing his angled shot into the far corner.

Mbappe's performance immediately drew comparisons to those of other great forwards. The player whom Mbappe has often been compared to is the 2002 Brazilian World Cup champion Ronaldo.

"Ronaldo was a forward player who was very, very quick," said Deschamps. "I think Kylian is even quicker. But this is somebody who was a world champion compared to a young player who has lots of ability and qualities. He is only 19 years old and he will make a lot of progress."

6 comments about "World Cup Today: A star is born".
  1. Bob Ashpole, June 30, 2018 at 6:47 p.m.

    He is both quick and fast. At 19, he is also still developing. Time will tell.

  2. frank schoon replied, June 30, 2018 at 9:05 p.m.

    He is a talent and he is strong, and he is quick and fast, but it  also works to his disadvantage when he all of a sudden has to slow down with the ball due to a man in front of him. He is not good in small spaces ,especially when they park the bus. Players like that are better in wide open spaces, like in the game today. Note  all the actions he is remembered for in the game all had to do with run in open space in a break away.He is perfect for a team like France that plays counter attacking soccer. Likewise, he is not good with his back facing the goal, in other words he is better playing from midfield instead on the front line.  He also needs to improve his first touch, especially when  it is not conducive to a follow up run.  He’s young and he will get better as far as soccer playing abilities  go for that is  what he needs to improve on. And it is best not  to pass to his feet but ahead of him, for otherwise it would slow him down.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, July 1, 2018 at 12:26 a.m.

    On the wing too where there is more space and 1v1 matchups, and you are more likely to be running at speed. He really should be at a club that will develop him rather than just exploit his physical gifts. Can he pass well enough to play behind the forwards or cross well enough to play wing? Can't tell by the highlights. 

    Should be interesting to see which club he goes to this summer. 

  4. frank schoon, June 30, 2018 at 9:40 p.m.

    Bob , check this out , great column

  5. frank schoon replied, June 30, 2018 at 9:41 p.m.

    Ships, read this , you’ll like it

  6. Peter Isaacs replied, July 1, 2018 at 3:38 p.m.

    To who it May concern!
    Kylian is likely to stay at PSG where he had a very successful year on loan from Monaco. His pre-agreed upon purchase clause will be one of the largest in history. Additionally, a team wanting and needing the services of such superior talent must adjust to him, not the other way!

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