Stuart Pearce has outlined the special plans England need to put in place to negate the Kylian Mbappe threat.
The Three Lions staged a tantalizing quarter-final with France after conquering Senegal with a 3-0 win in the World Cup Round of 16.
Facing Didier Deschamps’ side will be a real litmus test of the real quality of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, especially as they will face the most exciting player in the world.
Mbappe is absolutely on fire at the moment with the Paris Saint-Germain star already scoring five goals for France in this year’s competition, and Stuart Pearce admits England will have their work cut out for them.
When asked how you stop Mbappe, Pearce told talkSPORT: “Kyle Walker is going to have to have the match of his life, there’s no doubt about it.
“We’re going to have to stop the supply line to him.
“They have a front four and real talent in that front four, with Mbappe being the pick of the lot with his pace, energy and goal threat.
“You have to prevent the ball from going into him and then double up on him when he has the ball. To do that, you have to press aggressively.
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Asked if England should set up to catch France at the counter, Pearce said: “That could well be the situation as people are pointing out.
“We are probably a better team on the counter-attack, so we could be a better team against better teams.
“Part of my lament is that when the opposition go down like they did today, I don’t think we were particularly cute playing through them with our midfielders.
“Yes, we will have to do it next week and maybe it will be a game for the counter-attack.”
Historically, England have played with a three-man defender in major competitions, but this tournament has seen the Three Lions revert to a four-man defender, which Pearce believes should remain the case against Les Bleus.
He said: “I expect us to play with a four at the back, it’s just a question of whether he plays with a two, Declan [Rice] and another, rather than just Declan alone with an advanced Bellingham or an advanced Henderson, whatever it is.
“Henderson can play that role, that’s no problem for him. He’s probably the best of him and Bellingham if you keep the same three to play in the engine room.
“I wouldn’t play three centre-halves. We have come so far with a four, the French will play with a four and so I don’t see the need to change, really not.
Pearce added: “I understand the thought process [regarding a three-man defence]. We went with a three sometimes because both looked fragile, but I don’t know how fragile they look in this tournament.
“I think John Stones and Harry Maguire have been consistent performers in every game. The other for me would be one of those midfielders who might have to sit down for it to be a box of four.
“From there, if we have a threat on the left side, it’s sliding Rice to double up on the left side.”
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