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World Cup 2022: England v France: Why fine margins matter when you are marking Kylian Mbappe – Rio Ferdinand

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Rio Ferdinand

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Stop Kylian Mbappe, and you stop France – he is the only reason I fear them.

The good news for England is that Kyle Walker is definitely fast enough to deal with Mbappe – he is probably the only defender on the planet who would be happy to take him on in a race, one versus one.

But this battle is not just going to be about raw pace alone. Mbappe’s intelligence makes Walker’s task on Saturday much harder than that.

To get through it, Walker is going to need some help out there, so the team’s approach and the focus of the players around him will be crucial too.

It is going to be fascinating to watch, and success or failure for England could come down to the finest of margins – Mbappe knows one tiny lapse is all it takes, and he will be away.

Concentration and anticipation are both crucial

Graphic showing Kyle Walker is the quickest defender in Premier League history with a top recorded speed of 37.8km/h and that Kylian Mbappe's top speed is 38km. The 100m world-record holder Usain Bolt clocked 44.7km/h in 2009

Plenty of defenders could keep Mbappe quiet for an hour or so, but only the very best can do it for 90-plus minutes.

It’s not just about keeping your concentration for the whole game when you face a player like him; it’s about anticipation, and making sure everything else is perfect too.

If Mbappe decides to go at you, and you make the wrong decision by half a centimetre or half a second – or you even just face up to him from the wrong angle – then forget about it, because he has gone.

I’m sure Poland’s Matty Cash could tell you all about how that feels, after they lost to France in the last 16 and Mbappe scored two fantastic late goals.

There were two chances that Mbappe created in the first half where he went at Cash on the outside, and the Aston Villa right-back could have done better – his angle of approach was slightly wrong and, if he’d sorted that out, he probably stops the cross.

Even so, for most of the game, Cash did all right. He was probably thinking ‘I’m doing a decent job against him here’.

With a player like this, though, that can change in an instant. You can be defending well but then the game is taken away from you with one moment of brilliance, as Cash found out the hard way.

The moment you give Mbappe time, he’s a problem

Graphic showing England's starting XI versus Senegal: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Henderson, Rice, Bellingham, Saka, Foden, Kane

Walker and Mbappe will have their own personal battle but there will be other England players doing their bit too.

I would start the same team that played against Senegal and I think Gareth Southgate will pick Jordan Henderson again in midfield for two reasons.

Henderson is what I would call a responsibility-led player because while he can press a bit, he frees up Jude Bellingham and releases him to be more dynamic going forward.

On top of that, he can protect and double up with Walker down the right flank like he does for Liverpool with Trent Alexander-Arnold, which is going to be so important here.

I remember playing for Manchester United against AC Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League in 2005, when we had Cristiano Ronaldo absolutely on fire for us.

Ronaldo was up against Cafu down the left but Gennaro Gattuso was coming out there and coming at him like a caged animal with so much energy and aggression every time he got the ball, helping his full-back out.

I see Henderson doing exactly the same, because the moment you give Mbappe time, he is a problem.

So, we need someone to get close to him and rock him, so he cannot get his head up and set himself to go.

That’s the only criticism I’d probably have of Cash and Poland overall – I didn’t see any of their players get right next to him and try to put him off balance or leave their elbows in his Adam’s Apple, that kind of stuff.

You have to make it a physical battle too, within reason of course, to make sure he is not thinking he will just get a free run through.

Because, trust me, everyone else will do that. If, say, Argentina play against someone like Mbappe then he is coming off the pitch with cuts and bruises. We can’t be too nice and just let him play.

‘Go and challenge and don’t look back – I’ll be there’

I faced quick and clever players like Thierry Henry, Michael Owen, Nicolas Anelka all the time in the Premier League, and Adriano and Samuel Eto’o in the Champions League too.

There were other players from all over the world that I’d be playing against and thinking ‘wow, they are lightning’ but I was never scared, I just knew I had to be ready.

Playing for Manchester United, if there was anyone quick down Gary Neville’s side, I used to say ‘don’t let them face you’. I would tell him to go in and challenge them when they got the ball and not let them turn and come at us – to make them play the ball backwards, basically.

I would tell him to do that every single time, even it felt a bit alien and he was coming out of position to get close to the attacker because if anything came over the top and they span away from him, I would be there.

I was the centre-half and if I wasn’t there, it’s my responsibility, so I would say ‘don’t look back when you go – I will be covering you’.

Walker and John Stones might do things differently, but these are the type of conversations that England’s back four will have been having all week. They will all have to adopt their game, and their positions, to deal with Mbappe’s threat.

As I said at the start, Mbappe is not just quick, he is clever too. His response to all of this is the bit I’m looking forward to as well.

We know what a fantastic player he is but if England come up with a plan to lock him down, I want to see how he finds a solution.

Does he move away from Walker, to another part of the pitch? Will he smell a weakness elsewhere and will he have the licence to wander?

He might change the way he plays, too. Against Poland he just wanted the ball to feet all the time, but he could easily decide he is going to run behind our defence instead.

And if he does get past Walker and gets at our two centre-halves, it is all over – it is going to be a long night for England if that keeps happening, but even once could be enough.

Why it’s vital Walker has minutes in the bank

None of this will faze Walker, who is not just one of the fastest players in the Premier League, he is one of the most experienced too.

He has faced Mbappe four times already, including on huge occasions like in the 2020-21 Champions League semi-finals, and at 32 he has been there, seen it and done it against all the best attackers in the world many times before.

Kyle Walker chases Kylian Mbappe during the first leg of the 2021 Champions League semi-final between Manchester City and Paris St-Germain
Walker and Mbappe have met four times before while playing for club and country, with Walker winning three of their Champions League meetings between Manchester City and Paris St-Germain. Mbappe won their only international meeting and set up Ousmane Dembele’s winner when France beat England 3-2 in 2017. Mbappe scored two goals and made one assist in those four matches

The only thing that might be on Walker’s mind this time is his fitness after his groin injury, which is why it is vital that he played the full game against Senegal in the last 16.

Some people were saying he shouldn’t have been risked because he is so vital against Mbappe, but you have to look at it from the player’s point of view.

Walker was out for two months before he played an hour against Wales in our final group game so, if he had been rested, he would have been going in against possibly the best player in the world – who is in amazing form too by the way – with only those 60 minutes in the bank.

I’m sorry, but if that’s the case you don’t go into the game feeling confident.

When I played, I always needed minutes going into a big game. I didn’t want questions in my head when I got to 75 minutes about whether my body would be fatigued and shutting down.

I wanted to know I could get to that point and get through it, because that could be the spell where we are under the cosh. If the lactic acid is kicking on and you are struggling physically then that might be the moment where you make a tiny mistake that costs your team the game.

Walker is through that territory now, because he has played a full match.

Facing Mbappe is a different proposition to playing Senegal, of course, but he has got those minutes now, and that is such an important part of it – he will be ready, I’m sure of that.

Rio Ferdinand was speaking to Chris Bevan in Doha, Qatar.

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Sarah Armstrong, a professor of criminology at Glasgow University, said she was surprised that concern over the safety of women in prison was “focused on this one, very exceptional case” given the “scathing” reports from the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture after previous visits to Cornton Vale.



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Actor Julian Sands latest hiker to encounter disaster near popular LA mountain, expert weighs in on dangers

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Several hikers have recently been killed or disappeared around a popular southern California peak – including missing actor Julian Sands – which should be a warning for would-be adventurers, experts said.

Mount Baldy’s breathtaking views come with real danger that can quickly turn a winter alpine trek into a nightmare, hiking expert Cris Hazzard told Fox News Digital.

“When there’s snow and ice on the mountains, it just takes one misstep to slide hundreds of feet down the slopes,” said Hazzard, of HikingGuy.com. People die on Mount Baldy every winter “like clockwork,” he added.

“Even if you survive, you could be trapped in a spot where no one can see you,” Hazzard said.

ACTOR JULIAN SANDS IDENTIFIED AS MISSING HIKER IN CALIFORNIA

Rescue efforts are still underway for British actor Julian Sands, who never returned to his car from a hike in the Angeles National Forest.

Rescue efforts are still underway for British actor Julian Sands, who never returned to his car from a hike in the Angeles National Forest.
(Franco Origlia)

Mount Baldy, in the Angeles National Forest about 50 miles west of downtown L.A., is a magnet for hikers who travel the alpine forests and double switchbacks around its 10,000-foot summit. On a clear day, visitors to the summit can see all the way to Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean, Hazzard said. 

Sands, 65, became the latest hiker to go missing there nearly two weeks ago and he remained unaccounted for as of Thursday.

While the search for Sands continued Tuesday, 75-year-old Jin Chung was rescued after he never returned from a hike days earlier. The missing cases both came after a woman was killed when she slipped down a roughly 500-foot icy hillside.

The treacherous icy hills, Hazzard told Fox News Digital, are what usually get hikers into trouble in that part of the Angeles National Forest.

IPHONE EMERGENCY SERVICE HELPS RESCUE PAIR AFTER CRASH IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FOREST

“Slipping on a narrow trail when hiking up a mountain in the summer usually means a bruised ego and a scrape or two,” Hazzard said. “But one slip or misstep on that same stretch of trail in the winter can get you into real trouble.”

Some hikers “don’t have the experience” – or the gear – for the mountain’s winter terrain, he added. 

“It’s easy to get lost when the trail is covered in snow or maybe even blazed incorrectly by the person before you,” he said.

“Climbing Mount Baldy right now should be done with at least a helmet, crampons, and ice axe and if you have yet to practice using tools like an ice axe, it’s just extra weight you’re carrying,” he added.

While there are areas around Mount Baldy that are more dangerous than others, including the Devil’s Backbone and the climb to Cucamonga Peak, Hazzard said trails with a lower profile can be just as dangerous in the winter.

NH HIKER FALLS TO DEATH OFF MOUNTAIN CLIFF WHILE TAKING PHOTOS WITH HIS WIFE, AUTHORITIES SAY

Snow-covered Mount Baldy is visible from Mt. Disappointment Road in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Snow-covered Mount Baldy is visible from Mt. Disappointment Road in the San Gabriel Mountains.
( Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“You don’t have to slide hundreds of feet down a slope to get hurt,” Hazzard said. “It could be the section of the trail where you think it’s relatively safe to let your concentration wane and get sloppy with your footing.”

Hazzard suggested alternative southern California hiking options where snowfall is not an issue, including Joshua Tree National Park and the lower peaks of the San Gabriel and Santa Ana Mountains. However, if hikers insist on Mount Baldy during the winter, Hazzard provided some basic tips to try and stay as safe as possible. 

“Find a Forest Service road or flat trail and start there,” Hazzard said. “You can use your trekking poles, microspikes, or snowshoes, and it can be a great time. Bring the 10 essentials, wear layers that you can adjust to control heat and sweat, and let your family know where you’re hiking.”

HIKER FOUND DEAD IN TEXAS NATIONAL PARK AFTER HIGH WIND WARNING ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

Cris Hazzard hiking Mount Baldy.

Cris Hazzard hiking Mount Baldy.
(Cris Hazzard of HikingGuy.com)

“Expect to go slower than usual and enjoy the scenery; winter hiking is not about bagging the miles or summits. If you really want to bag Mount Baldy in the winter, learn how to mountaineer, practice your skills, pick the ideal conditions, and do it responsibly.”

The “extremely dangerous” conditions that claimed the life of the female hiker and another hiker in recent weeks prompted local authorities to urge hikers, including experienced ones, to avoid the area for the time being.

“Please know the current conditions on Mount Baldy are adverse and extremely dangerous. Due to the high winds, the snow has turned to ice, making hiking extremely dangerous,” authorities warned. 

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Los Angeles skyline framed by San Bernadino Mountains and Mount Baldy with fresh snow from Kenneth Hahn State Park.

Los Angeles skyline framed by San Bernadino Mountains and Mount Baldy with fresh snow from Kenneth Hahn State Park.
(Visions of America/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team said it has responded on 14 rescue missions in the last four weeks alone.

Search crews continue to look for Sands, known for his roles in “The Killing Fields” and “Leaving Las Vegas,” as of Thursday afternoon amid wintry conditions and avalanche warnings.

The U.S. Forest Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 



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