Turbulent Mbappe becomes the fear factor!

Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

“Mbapre”. Saw a tweet saying this a few days back during the course of the ongoing World Cup. This was actually the headline on the sports pages of a Chennai-based daily I used to work for. This was in 2018, after the France-Argentina last 16 match. Can’t stick my neck out and say that I liked it, because I am not in favour of mixing English with Hindi. But let me admit, it has some meaning.

The phenomenon born in Bondi in France to parents of Cameroonian and Algerian lineage is becoming a terror for the oppositions, more so for the right-backs, because he is bursting down that left flank. Speed, acceleration, power, stamina, hunger for goals and zeal, Kylian Mbappe has everything and more. Nine World Cup goals (four in 2018, five in 2022) before turning 24, this is not normal.

Via FIFA World Cup Twitter

Football is about goals and those who get them are the game’s most precious possessions. There are different types. There are those who kill you softly with minimal use of force, like Lionel Messi. Then there are others with dazzling skills and power, like Cristiano Ronaldo. There are the cheeky-canny types, like Neymar. Some of them are supreme opportunists and lurk inside the box to make the smallest of chances count, like Roberto Lewandowski.

And then there are some who pulverise the defence. They possess that extra bit of power, acceleration and finishing accuracy that make them fearsome figures. They don’t just score goals, but destroy the opposition. The goals they score have a numbing effect on them. The power-bank turning 24 on December 20 belongs to that rare category. France’s biggest hope for a World Cup encore has shown that repeatedly and mainly due to him, a lot of people are saying that Didier Deschamps’ team can become the first after Brazil to win back-to-back titles.

Take for instance the first goal Mbappe hit against Poland. Down 1-0, Lewandowski & Co were still fighting, looking for that gap in the French defence. This World Cup has seen some famous incidents of teams squandering1-0 leads. And then comes the blast. It had in-swing and placement alright. What defined that goal was the force behind the shot. Wojciech Szczęsny had perhaps been the competition’s best goalkeeper so far. To give him in no chance from that distance needed a monstrous effort and that’s what Mbappe came up with.

Via Kylian Mbappe Twitter

The second one was even scarier if you were Polish. Roughly from the same position at the top left of the box, the technique was similar. As in, it was another in-swinging curler. But this time, the ball rocketed into the far corner of the net. Power, precision, vision and confidence to pull these off in a World Cup knockout match make Mbappe special. He believes he can achieve these things. Not many do. And he has been doing this since he was 19!

Having scored five times already, he is this edition’s leading scorer. Anything can happen in the knockout stages of a World Cup. But one thing is certain. He has already instilled fear in the opposition, whoever they are. They know that they have to contend with a force of nature, a sort of turbulence, who is unstoppable on his day.

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