France’s win over Argentina might have seen the passing of a baton between the old stars and the new with the rise of Kylian Mbappe
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the European football scene over the past decade and have broken upon record in this period. But World Cup 2018 has yet again highlighted a very telling fact – neither of them has ever been able to score in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappé stole the show on Saturday with his man-of-the-match performance against Argentina. You look at this 19-year old single-handedly deciding a big fixture like that, and wonder if all the excuses that Messi and Cristiano fans come up with, are as valid as they would like to believe, to justify the failures of two veterans who are considered by some, as the greatest to have ever graced a pitch.
The match between France and Argentina was actually fairly close, but if you look back at what happened, it is the Frenchman’s genius that made the difference. It is perhaps not even a stretch to say, that if it was not for the French youngster, the South Americans would have most probably advanced to the quarter-finals.
The PSG-bound sensation caused havoc in Buenos Aires, the moment his feet touched the ball. No matter how from far goal he is, it only took him a few moments to cruise his towards the penalty box as if he had suddenly transformed into another version of Usain Bolt, with ball-playing abilities. Mbappé did not need his teammates to do everything for him and leave him with an easy situation to steal the glory. It was the opposite, he relied on himself to go and make the difference, without complaining that France was too dependent on him or that he wasn’t playing for the side that controlled possession. None of these excuses.
Mbappé is proof that even when your defense concedes three goals, you can still do your job as an attacker and damage the opponent, without complaining about what’s going on. With his blistering pace, ability to drive the ball forward and his direct style of play that sees him run towards the opponent rather than away from the defenders, the teenager automatically drew comparisons with one of the very best players in history, the hero of the 2002 World Cup, Ronaldo ‘Fenomeno’. It is a joy to every fan of the former Brazilian star, to witness someone who reminds us of his genius, and of his style which is very rare to find in modern day football.
The sky is the limit for Kylian Mbappé. After out-performing Lionel Messi in a direct duel, the next step for him will be to guide Les Bleus against another South American giant in Uruguay, come Friday, with a dream semi-final against Brazil being the clash that the whole world is waiting for.
Imagine all the headlines that a match like that with so many stars from both sides, would pull. The 2018 World Cup has so far, lived up to its expectations. A new star could born, and he could well dominate world football for years to come.