Rock star Kylian Mbappe propels defending champions France into the last 16 with a double whammy

Rock star Kylian Mbappe propels defending champions France into the last 16 with a double whammy

At halftime, the 974 Stadium DJ switched his tracks from soft rock to heavy metal. The stadium suddenly reverberated with Iron Maiden’s Trooper and Judas Priest’s Breaking The Law. Kylian Mbappe, sweat glistening in the spotlight, waved his hands, flexed his biceps and urged the crowd to chant. The DJ turned up the volume and the stadium became the raucous stage for a heavy metal band concert, with fans shaking their heads and jumping from their seats, drawing anxious faces from the security men loitering in the gallery.

The game, goalless in the first half, flowed more like a soft rock song. It would soon take on a heavy metal dimension, with Mbappe striking the chords in one of his most electrifying World Cup performances. His brace made the decisive difference in the round of 16 in France, securing a 2-1 win for a resilient Denmark side who could sympathize with the belief that a footballer who leapt to sporting immortality with every passing game denied them a point.

It was a game in which not only were Mbappe’s supreme skills highlighted, but his ruthlessness and desire reigned above all other gifts. The second goal captured the essence of Mbappé. The moment he saw that Antoine Griezmann had snatched the ball from outside the box, he knew he was in business. Even if Griezmann had other intentions, he was worth running for. So Mbappe ran over Rasmus Kristensen and bullied and bulldozed into the heart of the box. The anticipation of a goal sniffer, or the intuition or the divinity of soccer.

The ball was not perfect, but rather uncomfortable; he couldn’t hit with his head or toe, so he jumped up and tossed the ball into the air from six yards past a bewildered Kasper Schmeichel, whose reflexes were too slow and his hands too weak to thwart the power of the ball. ball.

Mbappe, whooping and screeching, leaped onto the notice board at the edge of the stands, gesturing to the crowd to celebrate. Then he kissed the French ensign, how foolish seemed the doubts that his heart was no longer with the country. He frowned at the camera, flexed his biceps again, and jumped to the ground, basking in the adulation of a rock star, his face sparkling in the light amid the rolls of drums and waves of French flags.

It was the Kylian Mbappé concert.

It wasn’t the biggest goal he’s ever scored; it would not be the best goal he would ever score. But it was probably the goal that unleashed his pent-up emotions. In fact, the first goal was more beautiful and classic.

By the time Mbappé received the ball midfield in his middle and ran down the left inside channel, Theo Hernández had already begun his overlapping run. The Danish jerseys played frantically to deny the unchanging fate. Without even looking around, he passed the ball to Hernandez, whose anticipation was telepathic, and went inside. Hernandez drifted wide and then backed up like a drunken car, slid to the edge of the box and served a well-weighted, no-look ball. to Mbappe, who finished sumptuously, firing a low diagonal past Schmeichel. It was simple and direct football, but devastatingly beautiful.

The match immediately hit attacking high notes and resulted in a Denmark equalizer just seven minutes later. It was a goal that embodied the Danes’ iron will as well as their hunger and purpose, as Andreas Christensen leaped over the French defenders and fired a header past Hugo Lloris, en route to a fine Joachim Andersen pass. by Christian Eriksen. rocking corner.

One goal was all he did not achieve for the French. France’s warm-up game was exciting, nobody was heavy on the ball, everyone kept their form, filled space and broke through the intricate defensive lines that Denmark had knotted up. The explosive speed they struck exaggerated the lethargy of the Danish resistance. In particular, Ousmane Dembele, who in the sixth minute grabbed the ball from his own half and crawled, running three-quarters of the way down the field like a workhorse, outpacing everyone and everyone, tossed in a delightful pass. towards Adrien Rabiot on the left, who lined up Mbappé instead, who tapped Dembélé’s ball. The final product was weak, but the sequence demonstrated the unnerving speed of body and thought that the French possess.

Denmark were left with no alternative but to launch a challenging back line, anchored by Andreas Christensen, who even risked a possible red card when he harassed Mbappe to the ground. He got away with a yellow. However, it was simply a matter of how long they could repel the relentless onslaught of the French, energized by chants of ‘ale le le’ from the blue-whitened stands. The particular stat captured their first half: 11 tries, but only two were on goal, sadly for the French. The goalless first half owed much to the stoutness of the Danish defence. They deployed similar tactics to the ones they had in the Nation League win over the world champions, defending third midfield in a 5-4-1 strangling midfield. The flaw is that they leave space on the wings, which the extreme French marauders could take advantage of in devastating ways. The first goal was a classic example.

They realized that the key to stopping the French was to lock down Antoine Griezmann, content with his role as playmaker behind the attacking trident. Against Australia, several of France’s moves stemmed from Griezmann’s vision and imagination. The Danes held him on a leash, suffocated him for space, and ejected him. But none of that mattered in the heavy metal music that Mbappe prepared.

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